Driver admits speeding, using marijuana before deadly crash

KENNEWICK, Wash. -- A Kennewick man admitted speeding and ingesting marijuana before hitting a pedestrian on W. 27th near Ely Street. Nina Howard, 52, was killed in the accident on Tuesday afternoon. Two witnesses said Michael Johnson, 46, was racing an older model Ford Mustang. That Mustang was driven by Johnson's son, 18 year old Aaron Johnson.

A witness described Johnson's Chevy Nova as "reckless." The Nova was a 1966 model with collector plates. A witness saw Howard crossing W. 27th from north to south. The witness says the Kennewick woman was west of Ely Street when she came to the center of the road and then turned back north. The witness saw Johnson's car move toward Howard and hit her.

A second witness described the Nova and Mustang as pulling away from traffic and "street racing." The witness felt the cars were going more than 50mph, despite the posted speed limit in the area of 40mph.

Aaron Johnson, 18, initially estimated to police that he was going 40-42mph, but then later admitted to going 55-60mph. He told officers his dad was catching up to him so it was likely the Nova was going 60-70mph. Aaron says he heard his dad "come off the throttle and brake hard."

Michael Johnson, 46, initially told police he was going the speed limit and was only passing a landscaping truck that was traveling too slowly. Michael later estimated his speed at more than 50mph but says his speedometer doesn't work.

Michael Johnson told police he had taken lithium about two hours before the accident and also admits taking marijuana in oil form. He had last smoked that the night before hitting Howard. The officer described Michael Johnson as "very lethargic" and "unemotional."

Howard was hit at a high speed about 200 yards west of Ely Street. She was not in a crosswalk. Friends say Howard was heading to a bus stop at the time.

Michael Johnson was being held on $100,000 bail on suspicion of vehicular homicide. He has not been charged.