Teen driver charged as adult in Bramblett crash; police allege marijuana use and excessive speed

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AUBURN, Ala (WRBL) – Auburn police have arrested and charged a 16-year-old driver in the deadly rear-end crash that killed the Voice of the Auburn Tigers Rod Bramblett and his wife Paula on May 25th.

On Monday, July 1, 2019 Auburn Police arrested Johnston Edward Taylor, age 16 from Auburn on warrants charging him with two counts of Manslaughter.

 

Johnston Taylor

Auburn Police say the arrest is the result of their ongoing investigation into the deadly crash. Further investigation and examination of evidence to determine contributing factors to the crash have been conducted.  

On June 28th, 2019 the Auburn Police Division received a report from the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency’s Traffic Homicide Unit confirming that Taylor’s vehicle was traveling at an excessive rate of speed, well over the posted 55 mph speed limit, when the crash occurred.  

Additionally, on July 1st 2019, the Auburn Police Division received the Toxicological Analysis Report from the Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences, confirming the presence of marijuana in Taylor’s system.  

 

Per Alabama Criminal Code 12-15-204; Taylor, a 16 year old was charged as an adult and taken into custody at his residence in Auburn. He was transported to the Lee County Jail where he is being held on a $50,000 bond.

A mug shot is not available at this time.

The charges come more than a month after the May 25th crash along Shug Jordan Parkway near W. Samford Avenue. The crash happened on a Saturday evening around 6:08. Early Sunday morning,

Lee Co. Coroner Bill Harris confirmed the couple had passed away.

“The fatality accident victims in Saturday’s two vehicle collision in Auburn were 53-year-old Rod Bramblett and his wife, 52-year-old Paula Bramblett, of Auburn. Paula Bramblett died at 7:50 PM in the emergency room of East Alabama Medical Center from multiple internal injuries and Rod Bramblett, known as the “Voice of the Auburn Tigers”, died at UAB Hospital in Birmingham from a severe closed head injury,” said Harris

According to the The Alabama Uniform Traffic Crash Report released on June 6th, the teen who crashed into the back of the couple’s vehicle told police he fell asleep while driving and remembers nothing.

The crash report uses ‘Unit 1’ to represent the 2011 Jeep Lorado a 16-year-old male high school student was driving when Auburn police say he hit the back right portion of ‘Unit 2’  which represents the 2017 Toyota Highlander occupied by Rod and Paula Bramblett the day of the deadly crash.

Based on the information provided in the report it appears the deadly injuries sustained by the Rod and Paula Bramblett were caused by the force of the rear impact only. The Bramblett’s vehicle was not pushed into a light or traffic signal pole.

The ‘Narrative’ of the crash report reads as follows:

“Unit 1 was traveling southbound in the outside lane on Shug Jordan Pkwy approaching W Samford Ave. It appears Unit 2 was stationary or near stationary in the southbound outside lane of Shug Jordan Pkwy at the traffic signal at W Samford Ave. The Driver of Unit 1 stated he fell asleep while driving and did not remember what happened. The driver and passenger of Unit 2 were unable to give a statement due to their injuries. Unit 1 struck Unit 2 to the right of center. The impact caused Unit 1 to strike a pedestrian crossing signal and a traffic light pole before coming to a final rest. Unit 2 was pushed into the intersection and through the opposing lanes of traffic before coming to a final rest on the curb. The information in this report is based on current and available data and does not yet include data extracted from vehicles and toxicology reports.”

Police determined the teen did not appear to be texting and driving or distracted by an electronic device prior to the crash. Police determined alcohol was not a factor. 

In the days following the crash, hundreds attended a Celebration of Life Service in Memory of Rod and Paula Bramblett at the Auburn Arena. The beloved Voice of The Auburn Tigers and his high school sweetheart were both graduates of Auburn University. They were remembered as a couple who were very much in love, who sacrificed for one another and adored their two children, a 20-year-old daughter, and 15-year-old son.

News 3 will continue to update you on this developing story.

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