Johnston Edward Taylor: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know

Lee County Sherriffs Office/Facebook Johnston Edward Taylor, 16, was arrested on July 1, 2019 and charged with two counts of manslaughter involving the deaths of Auburn University sports announcer Rod Bramblett, 53 and wife Paula, 52.

An Alabama teen is facing two counts of manslaughter in the deaths of Auburn University sports announcer Rod Bramblett, 53 and wife Paula, 52. Johnston Edward Taylor, 16, was arrested on July 1 by the Lee County Sheriff’s Office for the May 25 accident in which killed the couple.

Charges were not filed against Taylor until the crash investigation and toxicology tests were completed. Taylor, who is a high school student at Lee-Scott Academy, has been charged as an adult.

Rod Bramblett was known as the “Voice of the Auburn Tigers.” He served as the lead play-by-play announcer for the men’s football, basketball and baseball teams. Bramblett won numerous awards and was named National Broadcaster of the Year by Sports Illustrated in 2013. Both he and wife Paula were from Alabama and had graduated from Auburn University. Paula Bramblett was also employed by the university in the IT department.

Here’s what you need to know about Johnston Edward Taylor and the accident that took the lives of Rod and Paula Bramblett.

1. Taylor Said He Fell Asleep at the Wheel

Rod and Paula Bramblett

Rod and Paula Bramblett

Just after 6 p.m. on Saturday, May 25, Taylor was traveling southbound in the outside lane of Shug Jordan Parkway, headed toward West Samford Avenue. The Bramblett’s were stopped at a light when Taylor’s Jeep rear-ended their Toyota Highlander, smashing into the back right bottom of the SUV, and pushing it into opposing lanes of traffic. Taylor’s Jeep then hit a pedestrian crossing signal and traffic light.

Rod Bramblett was airlifted to UAB Birmingham, where he later died from severe head injuries. Paula Bramblett was airlifted to East Alabama Medical Center, suffering from extensive internal injuries. She was pronounced dead in the emergency room at 7:50 p.m. Taylor was also treated at East Alabama Medical Center for non-life-threatening injuries.

The teen told first responders that he fell asleep at the wheel and had no recollection of the accident. Investigators determined he had not been on his cell phone nor had he been distracted by an electronic device. Alcohol was also ruled out as a possible culprit.

2. Taylor Was Driving 89-91 Miles Per Hour

An investigation completed on June 28 by the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency’s Traffic Homicide Unit determined that Taylor had been traveling between 89-91 miles per hour, “well over” the posted speed limit of 55 miles per hour.

On July 1, the Alabama Department of Forensic Science reported that Taylor’s toxicology results tested positive for marijuana. It is unknown if Taylor was considered impaired at the time of the accident. THC “is the primary psychoactive component of marijuana and is indicative of recent usage of marijuana at the time of the collision on May 25,” the affidavit reads, according to the Opelika-Auburn News.

The inquiry required a search warrant for both vehicles included a review of the scene, the automobile data extracted from each vehicle’s Electronic Data Recording Module, and accident reconstruction. It was confirmed that the Brambletts were both wearing seatbelts.

3. Taylor Was Described as Having Close Ties to Law Enforcement

Teen arrested for Rod & Paula Bramblett deathsThe teenager involved in the crash that killed Rod Bramblett and his wife, Paula, has been arrested.2019-07-02T02:42:21.000Z

Taylor was taken into custody and booked into the Lee County Jail. He was held on a $50,000 bond but has since been released. He was charged under 12-15-204 of the Alabama Criminal code, “Acts for which person who has attained age 16 shall be charged, arrested, and tried as an adult; removal of person from jurisdiction of juvenile court.”

WLTZ reported that Taylor has “deep ties to the Auburn community and even closer connection to law enforcement.”

“As far as any relationships or any rumors, of course, I’m not going to get into that at all, speculate or make other comments,” Captain Lorenza Dorsey said when asked specifically about the driver’s possible connection to the police department. Dorsey said the case would be investigated and handled like any other case.

4. Community Members Have Mixed Feelings about Taylor’s Arrest

Within the Auburn community, there’s been a mixed response concerning Taylor’s arrest. Many people have taken to social media to express their opinion about Taylor being charged as an adult.

“Thanks for ruining a kids life who is already traumatized by this terrible mistake he made. He has to live with this the rest of his life mentally and instead of therapy you are throwing A KID in prison for manslaughter. Yes the situation is so sad. Rest In Peace to them but that CHILD does not need to go to prison,” Abbie Newman wrote on Facebook.

“As terrible as this crime is, I have a problem with anyone under 18 being charged as an adult for any reason,” Chris Wiliams commented.

“Unreal the number of clueless people making excuses for the person who killed two people. Manslaughter is the correct charge and if convicted he needs to do the time and have a Permanent adult record.” Jeff Tommie Sartain posted.

“I think it should have been murder charges. Speeding and on a drug. What else does it take for murder. He is young, but should have been responsible,” Patti Vines Bauer wrote.

5. A GoFundMe Page Was Set up for the Bramblett Children

According to WRBL, hundreds of members from the Auburn community attended the May 30 Celebration of Life service for the Brambletts. A GoFundMe page was created to help the couple’s two children, Shelby, and Joshua, “move forward with life’s expenses.” Shelby, 20, is a sophomore at Auburn University and Joshua, 15, will be entering the tenth grade at Auburn High School in the fall. More than $331,000 has been collected.

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