Eyewitness recounts moments before deadly motorcycle crash

By Laura Geller - bio | email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) – Hundreds gathered Wednesday evening to mourn a Richmond man killed in a motorcycle crash this past weekend. Thomas Johnson, 27, was killed in a gruesome wreck near the roundabout at 25th and M Streets in Church Hill.

NBC12, like many at Wednesday's vigil, are still waiting to learn if this crash was the result of a police pursuit.  Police told NBC12 there's nothing new they can release right now. We did get some new details, however, from a woman who said she was with Thomas Johnson just before the crash.

After an emotional vigil, Karen Bailey had to wipe away tears and collect herself; before she could tell us what she said happened moments before her friend's death.

According to her, just after midnight Saturday, she walked outside a club in the Bottom to smoke. She was talking to Thomas Johnson who, she said, was sitting on his bike.

"When he went to pull off, I'd say about two or three minutes after he pulled off, the police went speeding behind him with the lights on," she recalled. "One car had the lights on; one didn't, just chasing him."

Other witnesses have said Johnson was doing tricks on the bike and didn't listen to an officer when asked to stop. Bailey disputed those accounts.

"He was sitting on the bike," she said. "They didn't warn him about anything. He didn't do anything. He was sitting there talking. I was talking to him."

So far, Richmond Police won't say if they were chasing Johnson. We asked Police Chief Bryan Norwood about the case on Monday.

"We are in the preliminary start of the investigation and it would be irresponsible of me to disclose too much at this time," he said.

After five days, mourners at the vigil said that answer isn't good enough.

"It's not fair to his family," said Josh Blowe. "You lose a family member; you want to know right then and there what happened."

Bailey said officers were sitting across the street at the 17th Street Farmers Market while she was outside talking to Johnson. According to court records, Johnson had an extensive record of driving violations. NBC12 has not learned, what, if anything, that had to do with a possible pursuit.

Copyright 2010 WWBT NBC12. All rights reserved