Truck driver sentenced for crash that killed 5 nursing students

BRYAN COUNTY, Ga. — A Louisiana truck driver has been sentenced to five years in jail for causing the fiery interstate crash that killed five nursing students last year in southeast Georgia.

John Wayne Johnson entered a guilty plea to nine criminal charges Thursday in a Bryan County courtroom 30 miles west of Savannah.

The 56-year-old of Shreveport, Louisiana, was behind the wheel of a tractor-trailer on Interstate 16 when it smashed into stop-and-go traffic on April 22, 2015. The collision killed five nursing students from nearby Georgia Southern University.

A grand jury indicted Johnson last month on charges including five counts of first-degree vehicular homicide. His employer, Total Transportation of Mississippi, agreed to pay $78 million to settle civil lawsuits after the crash.

Jimmy Deloach, the father of victim Abbie Deloach, says the five year sentence Johnson got as part of a plea deal "cheapened the value of my little girl and all the girls".

If Johnson did not get a plea deal, he would have faced 93 years in prison if convicted at trial.


Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.