John Austin Johnson survived five IED attacks, but the sixth one left him with brain damage. When he came home, he expected to see his wife and three children -- only to find out two of his children had died in a car accident and the third was on life support.
Army Spc. John Austin Johnson seemed to have a gift for evading tragedy.
During two years in Iraq, the soldier from Fort Bliss, in West Texas, survived five improvised explosive device blasts and several grenade attacks.
“A lot of people go through one IED and don’t survive,” said Army Sgt. 1st Class Eugene Schmidt.
But Spc. Johnson’s luck began to turn with the last IED blast, which left him with a traumatic brain injury. Back in Texas for care at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, he was eagerly awaiting a visit by his wife and three children last weekend.
But the children never arrived.
“I went up to his room and told him there was a problem,” said Sgt. Schmidt, an Army medic who has grown close to the family over the last week. “I told him there was an accident and two of his children were deceased.
“He said, ‘Two of my children are dead?’ And we started crying.”
Driving across the plains from El Paso, Spc. Johnson's wife, Lisa, had encountered a ferocious wind gust in her Chevrolet Trailblazer, Sgt. Schmidt said. "She steered and overcorrected, and the car rolled over four times."
The youngest children, 2-year-old Logan and 5-year-old Ashley, died at the scene. Nine-year-old Tyler suffered massive head injuries and was flown to Children's Medical Center Dallas, where he remained on life support Saturday.
Mrs. Johnson suffered bruises but was released from a hospital to join her husband in Dallas. They have been staying at the Ronald McDonald House to be near Tyler.
Though the family was too grief-stricken to talk publicly, Sgt. Schmidt said he was impressed by how they are handling the situation.
"I think they're very strong, and they have a strong religious faith, and that's what pulling them through it," he said.
You can donate to help cover family expenses at any Bank of America -- just ask to make a deposit to the John A. and Monalisa Johnson Fund. If you have accounts at Bank of America, you can make a quick deposit while you do your regular banking. It's completely hassle-free. And if you don't bank at Bank of America, then all the same -- it'll take five minutes, at most, to stop in and deposit twenty dollars to help this family.
Just take a minute and put yourselves in this family's position. I know firsthand how expensive medical bills can be. If you can help this family at all, please do. Even five dollars can make a difference.