09/05/13 10:00am
09/05/2013 10:00 AM
COURTESY PHOTO | Ashley Johnson at a family friend's wedding in 2011. Police have not made any arrests in the June 6 hit-and-run crash that injured Ms. Johnson in Florida.

COURTESY PHOTO | Ashley Johnson at a family friend’s wedding in 2011. Police have not made any arrests in the June 6 hit-and-run crash that injured Ms. Johnson in Florida.

Ashley Johnson, the former Riverhead High School student who was critically injured during a hit-and-run accident in Florida in June, is back in New York after months of effort to bring her home for better rehabilitation.

Ms. Johnson, 23, was struck by a red pickup truck about 11:45 p.m. on June 6 while crossing a major highway in Tampa.

Police have yet to make an arrest in the case.

Ms. Johnson was flown by private jet Aug. 16 to New York University Langone Rusk Institute of Rehabilitation in Manhattan, where she is undergoing aggressive short-term rehabilitation and speech therapy, said her mother, Kimberley Mullen.

Ms. Johnson suffered a severe head injury in the crash and fractured her left arm in three places.

“She can move her right arm and leg up and down,” Ms. Mullen said. “The left side she is having a hard time with. They are trying to rehab her to get back to regular life.”

Dissatisfied with the care Ms. Johnson was receiving in Florida, the family had been trying move Ms. Johnson back to New York since soon after the crash.

“We’ve seen she is improving every day,” Ms. Mullen said. “You show her pictures and she knows her family. She just needed the experienced staff at NYU.”

Ms. Johnson has been using sign language to speak with her sister Ebony, said Shelby Block, Ms. Johnson’s stepmother. The two learned signs when they were about 12 years old, Ms. Block said.

Ms. Mullen, who was also living in Florida at the time of the crash, said she’s since resigned from her job as business office manager at Cross Gardens Care Center in Miami to help take care of her daughter full-time.

“You never think it’s going to be your family,” Ms. Mullen said. “It’s tough, but when you’re up against it, you really all come together.”

The family said they hope to eventually bring Ms. Johnson home to Riverhead after her stay at the NYU facility, which is a short-term care facility.

Relatives are confident Ms. Johnson will soon be able to live with family in Riverhead, with the help of at-home care.

“I don’t want her going from facility to facility,” Ms. Mullen said.

cmiller@timesreview.com

07/06/13 5:00pm
07/06/2013 5:00 PM


COURTESY PHOTO | Ashley Johnson with her father Dwayne in the Tampa airport about two weeks before the accident.

A Riverhead native remains in critical condition after a hit and run accident in Tampa, Fla. one month ago today as police continue to hunt for the driver of a red pickup truck.

Ashley Johnson, 23, was struck by the truck June 6 while crossing a major highway in Tampa about 11:45 p.m., according to a report.

Channel 10 News in Tampa reported last night Ms. Johnson, a Riverhead High School graduate, can only communicate by blinking her eyes. Ms. Johnson remains at Kindred Hospital in Tampa.

Ms. Johnson’s mother, Kimberly Mullen, pleaded for the driver who struck her daughter to come forward.

Click here to watch the full video report from Tampa on wtsp.com.

06/14/13 3:00pm
06/14/2013 3:00 PM

COURTESY PHOTO | Ashley Johnson with her father Dwayne in the Tampa airport about two weeks before the accident.

A Riverhead native is in critical condition after a hit and run accident in Tampa, Fla. last week, Florida Highway Patrol said.

Ashley Johnson, 23, a former Riverhead High School student, was struck by a red pick-up truck June 6 while crossing a major highway in Tampa about 11:45 p.m., according to a report.

She was transported to St. Joseph’s Hospital in Tampa where she is currently in critical condition with severe head trauma, according to family.

“She has bleeding on the brain and her left arm is fractured in three different places,” said Shelby Block, Ms. Johnson’s step-mother.

Ms. Block flew to Florida following accident with Ms. Johnson’s father, Dwayne Johnson.

Ms. Johnson, who moved to Tampa two years ago, was walking back from a Wal-Mart store next to the highway at the time of the accident, Ms. Block said.

Ms. Johnson was walking southeast across the southbound lanes of Dale Mabry Highway, a six-lane highway just south of Waters Avenue, said Sgt. Steve Gaskins of Florida Highway Patrol. The pick-up truck was traveling southbound on Dale Mabry Highway and hit Ms. Johnson, according to a report.

The driver of the pick-up drove off, leaving Ms. Johnson injured on the inside lane of the highway, according to a report. Ms. Johnson was not using a crosswalk.

A witness to the accident told Ms. Johnson’s family the driver of the pick-up did not hit the brakes, and that Ms. Johnson was pushed under the vehicle, Ms. Block said.

Florida Highway Patrol officials are still looking for the vehicle.

“We have received no leads in this case to date,” Sgt. Gaskins said.

The Johnson family is asking the public to help locate the driver.

“If anybody could just pass the word along to any family members that live in the area,” Ms. Block said. “If they know anyone with a red pick-up with passenger side damage, let it be known.”

They have created an online guestbook for supporters to share thought and prayers for Ms. Johnson.

Ms. Johnson was described as “a beautiful girl inside and out,” said Fran Johnson, a family member who created the guestbook.

“She is an inspiring artist with a great talent,” Ms. Johnson said in the online guestbook. ”She loves to write poetry and recently started using her artistic talent to become a tattoo artist.”

“We’re hoping and praying to God up above and trying to have faith that this will all come to light,” Ms. Block said. “We’re hanging, we’re just taking this hour by hour.”

Anyone with information concerning the crash is asked to contact the Florida Highway Patrol at 813-631-4020.

cmiller@timesreview.com

Google map of Dale Mabry Highway and Waters Avenue in Tampa, Fla.

Google map of Dale Mabry Highway and Waters Avenue in Tampa, Fla.