Driver jailed in fatal fire truck crash on Minnesota freeway

Michael Allen Johnson, 28, told investigators he had not slept for more than 45 minutes in more than a day leading up to the crash north of Minneapolis, according to court documents.

Johnson allegedly later admitted to using marijuana several hours earlier Saturday and cocaine two days before that, the complaint said.

Get free real-time news alerts from the Southwest Minneapolis Patch. Sign up for the Daily Headlines email alert! Authorities say he was operating the vehicle in a grossly negligent manner and could face criminal vehicular homicide charges.

He was among the 11 members of Michigan's Beartown Firefighters of the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community traveling in a caravan to a wildfire in Utah, according to the community's Facebook page. He was among 9 firefighters from Baraga, Michagan who were on their way to fight the Box Canyon wildfire in Utah. He estimated their speed at 80 to 90 miles per hour in the 70 mph zone and noticed Johnson's truck swerve to the right multiple times.

To honor the lives of James Shelifoe, Jr. and Alan Swartz - the Beartown Firefighters killed in a single-vehicle accident Saturday - Gov. Rick Snyder has ordered USA and MI flags to be lowered to half-staff Wednesday and Thursday. The other survivors were taken to Mercy Hospital in Coon Rapids and Unity Hospital in Fridley.

Johnson remains in custody at the Anoka County Jail and is scheduled for a hearing in Anoka County District Court Tuesday at 9 a.m. Seven others were injured, their exact conditions are unavailable, but they are expected to recover. It also indicates the firefighters were on the way to the Box Canyon Fire, which is burning on almost 4,000 acres in Utah. The fire departments in Baraga and nearby L'Anse were raising money to support those affected by the accident. Shelifoe's funeral is scheduled for Wednesday while Swartz's funeral is set for Thursday.

  • Larry Hoffman