Family Of Alleged Van Buren County Drunk Driver Speaks On Troubled Past

Posted at 9:04 PM, Nov 14, 2012
and last updated 2012-11-14 21:25:09-05

The family of a man who was allegedly drunk behind the wheel when causing a wreck that left three people dead in Van Buren County says the man has been through a personal hell in the past two years.

A cousin of David Johnson, 32, says Johnson had been dealing with stomach cancer and a rocky marriage leading up to the Wednesday night crash that took the lives of  two children. Cassadi Berryhill, 4, and her sister, Kandice, 2, died in the crash. Brittney King, 24, was the driver of one of the three cars involved in the wreck and also died.

The father of the two girls, Justin Berryhill, is in stable condition at Bronson Hospital in Kalamazoo.

Johnson’s cousin says David knew the family who lost their two daughters.

“I couldn’t believe it,” Johnson’s cousin said. “I know he knows he’s in the wrong. His heart’s broken for what he did.”

According to the Van Buren County Sheriff’s Department, Johnson’s criminal record should never have allowed him on the road. At the time of the crash, his license was suspended. He has prior convictions of operating under the influence of liquor and operating while impaired by liquor. Johnson also has seven other convictions of driving with a suspended licenses.

FOX 17 also found a 2003 conviction on a drug charge on Johnson’s record.

Johnson’s cousin says the man she and her family call “Buddy” was planning to buy the truck involved in the wreck, a 1997 Ford F-150 that belonged to Adam Cripps of Grand Junction. Cripps didn’t return calls or messages from FOX 17 on Wednesday.

Johnson’s cousin also says this isn’t the first time that her family has dealt with a drunk driving tragedy.

In 2006, Johnson’s cousin lost her right arm in a drunk driving accident in Indiana.

“We’re all heartbroken on both sides,” she said. “We’ve been through this on both sides now.”

“It’s hard. It’s really hard. It’s bringing back a lot of memories for all of us. And we know that David should have. ..he knew better. We know he knew better.”

But the family isn’t acting like they’re the victims.

“We’re not wanting sympathy for what he did. We’re sorry for what our family member has done.”

Johnson’s cousin says David went through surgeries this afternoon at Bronson. As of Wednesday night, no charges had been filed against him.