DECATUR — Many in the Wise County seat of Decatur were shocked and stunned Sunday to learn that well-known Justice of the Peace Terri Johnson was one of four people killed in a horrific highway crash just south of town on Saturday evening.
"My first feeling was unbelief, just a shock," said the Rev. Ken May, head pastor at First Baptist Church Decatur, where Johnson and her family regularly attended services.
May said Johnson's husband and two sons actually attended service on Sunday morning, roughly 12 hours after finding out their loved one was killed in the accident.
"There just was a tremendous show of support here," May said.
The accident happened shortly before 6 p.m. Saturday, according to the Texas Department of Public Safety. Johnson, 40, was driving southbound in the northbound lanes of Highway 287 when she hit a sport utility vehicle head-on.
Three adults inside the SUV were also killed, and a four-year-old girl was airlifted to Cook Children's Medical Center in Fort Worth in critical condition.
DPS identified the three adults as: Juan Jose Rios, 31, of Quanah; Amy Dee Culwell, 35, of Chillicothe; and Sherry Ann Rios, 50, of Quanah.
Investigators said there was no immediate indication about what caused Johnson to be on the wrong side of the divided highway.
Alcohol or drugs don't appear to be factors. Asked if a medical condition or episode may be to blame, DPS spokesman Sgt. Lonny Haschel said investigators are looking at "everything."
Johnson was a popular judge, and often presided over juvenile cases after first getting elected in 2007.
May said a love for young people extended to her work in the church, where she was active within the youth ministry.
“The family and friends of Terri Johnson request privacy as they grieve the lives lost during this tragic incident," a statement from the family read. "We appreciate the outpouring of love from the community Terri served. We ask for your continued prayers for not only our loss, but for the friends and family of all those who died.”
A candlelight vigil is expected to be held at Decatur Baptist on Monday evening.
Funeral arrangements have yet to be finalized.