An off-duty firefighter and paramedic who was killed Monday while crossing state Route 8 during rush hour had been married just nine days earlier.
Tonya R. Johnson, 43, of Canton, died of blunt force trauma to the head when she was struck by a pickup truck at about 4 p.m., according to the Summit County Medical Examiner’s Office. The incident caused a 10-car chain reaction crash, though no one else was seriously injured.
Police said Johnson was traveling southbound on Route 8 with her husband, who was driving, when an argument about directions broke out between the newlyweds. Her husband told police he pulled their vehicle onto the right side of the road near East Tallmadge Avenue and she left the car without warning, crossed southbound traffic and climbed over the cement barrier. She was struck by a northbound Nissan pickup truck while attempting to cross the highway.
The incident closed lanes in both directions. Southbound lanes opened after about an hour, and northbound lanes opened at about 7 p.m.
According to the Canton Repository’s website, at least two of Johnson’s relatives were on their way to Akron to get her before the accident.
Regina Skinner, a cousin who lived with Johnson, said Johnson called her asking for a ride, the cantonrep.com reported Tuesday. Skinner told the Repository that the couple had been having marital problems.
Skinner said she was stuck in Route 8 traffic when Johnson’s husband called her to tell her about the accident. She also told the Repository that Johnson’s son was also trying to get to his mother in Akron when he was involved in a car accident in Canton.
The medical examiner’s office released Johnson’s name on Tuesday morning after her family was notified. She had two sons and a daughter, co-workers said.
She was married on Feb. 13, according to Stark County Probate Court records.
Clerks said they completed the paperwork to finalize the marriage on Monday, the same day she died.
Canton Fire Chief Thomas Garra said in a news release that Johnson would be deeply missed.
“Our condolences and sympathy are with her family at this time,” Garra said in a news release. “She was an excellent firefighter/paramedic and served the city well.”
Johnson joined the department on May 18, 1998. According to the fire chief, funeral and memorial services have not been determined.
Nick Glunt can be reached at 330-996-3565 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @NickGluntABJ.