Retiring District 6 employee perishes in vehicle crash

The Idaho Transportation Department and employees in District 6 mourn the loss of a friend and colleague this week following an automobile crash near Salmon. Terry Johnson, 54, apparently died when he lost control of his vehicle late Sunday or early Monday on U.S. 93. Search and rescue workers recovered his body from the Salmon River Monday.

“We are distressed to lose Terry, who had worked for ITD 36 years and was planning for his retirement Feb. 25,” said District Engineer Blake Rindlisbacher. “As the maintenance lead worker in our Salmon shed, he was organized and dependable. I express heart-felt condolences to Terry’s family and friends on behalf of everyone at ITD.”

A native of Rigby, Johnson was finishing his career at ITD in anticipation of formal retirement next month. He was a Transportation Technician – Senior with about 36 years of experience dating to 1974 when he started with the department in Rigby. He transferred to the Salmon area about 20 years later.

Johnson, an avid outdoorsman, lived in Carmen, about four miles north of Salmon.

A motorist traveling on U.S. 93 reported seeing tire marks that appeared to be headed toward the river, indicating Johnson’s vehicle had veered from the highway for unknown reasons. The partially submerged vehicle was not readily visible from the highway.

The Post-Register reported rain had fallen in the area Sunday but that temperatures “generally stayed above freezing, leading authorities to believe ice-slicked roads were not an issue.”

“Anything is possible, Lemhi County Sheriff Lynn Bowerman told a Post-Register reporter. “He could have been trying to avoid hitting a deer or an elk; he could have fallen asleep.”

Apparently there were not witnesses to the crash.

A funeral service is planned at 1 p.m. tomorrow (Saturday, Jan. 22) at Salmon River Funeral Chapel.

Obituary, reprinted from the Post-Register, Idaho Falls:

Terry M. Johnson
Terry Merle Johnson, 54, died Sunday, Jan. 16, 2011, in Salmon, Idaho.

He was born Feb. 6, 1956, in Rigby, Idaho, to Merle Johnson and Virginia Olson Johnson Smith. He went to school in Rigby, where he graduated from Rigby High School in 1974. He joined the National Guard during his final year of school and served our country for 23 years.

He married Roberta Walters in September 1977, and they had two children, Jeremy and Candace. They later divorced.
In April 1993, he married Sandra Chance and they had one child, Alexa. They later divorced.

He worked for the Idaho Transportation Department for 36 years starting in Rigby, and then moving to Salmon in 1995.
He always enjoyed hunting and fishing, but most of all he loved spending time with his family.

He is survived by his mother, Virginia Smith; his children, Jeremy and Denise Johnson, Candace Andersen and Alexa Johnson; five grandchildren, Kaylee, Blake, Clayton, Riley and Bailey; four brothers, Scott (Nancy) Johnson, Mark (Barbara) Johnson, Darrin Johnson and Mel Smith; two sisters, Vicki (Dennis) Johnson and Debbie Christensen; and all of his nieces and nephews that he dearly loved.

He is preceded in death by his father, Merle Johnson; and one sister, Lisa Marie Smith.

Services will be held at 1 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 22, at Salmon River Funeral Chapel. Visitation will be from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Friday, Jan. 21, at Eckersell Funeral Home in Rigby.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation.

Published 1-21-2011