RACINE COUNTY -- One of two semi drivers killed in a fiery crash that closed I-41/94 in Racine County for hours on Wednesday, June 19 was the cousin of Milwaukee Common Council President Ashanti Hamilton. He and his family spoke with FOX6 about the life and legacy of a man who not only took pride in his work, but was also always there to help others.
"He really loved his job. He loved his truck, and he loved what he was doing," said Alderman Hamilton. "He loved being able to provide for his family. He was someone everyone could depend on."
Family said Johnson was survived by his wife and eight children, the youngest just 7 months old.
"Loving person. Caring. Kind-hearted. Funny. Very funny. That was my daddy," said Isis Johnson, daughter.
His daughter spoke of his love for the road.
"It was like, his passion. When he first got his truck, he pulled up and we all took pictures," said Isis Johnson.
They shared a message from the company Johnson worked for, which referred to him as their "mighty road warrior."
"He took pride in driving. Like, it was something beyond just a job for him," said Isis Johnson.
"He looked out for his family. He looked out for other people, and that's how we want to remember him," said Alderman Hamilton.
Johnson's family said they take some comfort believing their road warrior did all he could to avoid bringing danger to others.
"He risked his life for others," said Johnson.
The other semi driver killed was identified by family as Kenneth Rogers. Loved ones remembered his strength and courage. The family said Kenneth Rogers had been a truck driver for four years. The family of Johnson said they also wished to express condolences to the family of Kenneth Rogers, saying both families have experienced great loss.
As of Monday, June 24, officials in Racine had not officially identified the men.
Three others were hurt in the crash, which closed I-41/94 in both directions near 50th Street for hours. The southbound lanes reopened shortly before 9 p.m. Wednesday, June 19. The northbound lanes did not reopen until about 4 a.m. Thursday, June 20.
Racine County Sheriff Christopher Schmaling held a news conference on Wednesday afternoon to lay out exactly what happened. He indicated around 11 a.m., numerous 911 calls came in referring to a crash, fire, and explosions. The sheriff said it appeared those "explosions" were from tires heating up -- and then bursting.
Sheriff Schmaling said the investigation showed a semi tractor trailer was traveling southbound when the driver made a lane change. In the process, that semi hit a construction barrier. The semi driver over-corrected, and hit the median wall. That median wall was shoved into the northbound lanes of I-94. Three northbound vehicles hit each other and/or the barriers in their path -- and the driver of a northbound semi tractor trailer made a decision to make a "very evasive maneuver." He drove off the road -- and the semi burst into flames. Sheriff Schmaling stated the driver of the second semi (the one that went off the road) saved lives by taking the evasive maneuver that he or she did.