Investigation continues in Nevada City car chase | TheUnion.com

Investigation continues in Nevada City car chase

The circumstances that led to a wild vehicle chase through Nevada City that ended in Adrienne Lincoln’s front yard remain under investigation.

And it is not clear whether driver Austin Michael Johnson, 27, will face anything worse than a misdemeanor charge of driving under the influence, stemming from the Oct. 2 incident.

Lincoln said she is just grateful for the twists of fate that kept her, husband Jim and pooch Molly safe from the path of the Camaro.

“It was literally Dukes of Hazzard happening in front of us,” Lincoln said.

Jim was outside that afternoon, barbecuing on the front porch of their Pittsburg Road home. Adrienne typically would have been walking down the driveway to the mailbox at that time, but chose to break her normal routine that day.

And Molly, too, often would have been lazing in that part of the driveway.

“Three … lives (were saved) because we didn’t do what we normally do,” she said. “God literally protected us. It was unbelievable.”

The Camaro being driven by Johnson was reportedly going about 80 mph when it took out a pasture fence and a cyclone fence in the yard, she said. It then hit a small stone planter and a concrete block planter built by Jim, an anniversary present filled with plants Adrienne dug up from her mother’s garden.

“They ripped right through the whole thing,” she said. “They ended up in front of our Tahoe — they took out the grill and both headlights and smashed the windshield. Big rocks were just flying. One huge boulder landed on the stairs right next to my husband.”

None hit Jim or the dog — or went through the picture window behind which Adrienne watched the whole thing begin to unfold.

Alarmed, she ran outside to stand next to Jim on the porch as Johnson and his passenger, Joel Davis, squeezed out of the Camaro and ran past them.

“I’m yelling — we were both yelling — at them to stop,” Lincoln said. “They jumped over — and tore down — a barbed wire fence. Molly was barking and chasing them, she was on their heels.”

The two fled onto the adjoining property, Prospector Nursery, before being tracked down, she said.

The aftermath, Lincoln said, looked like there had been an explosion. There was glass everywhere, along with the chunks of concrete from the wall.

But despite the approximately $50,000 in damage, Lincoln was heartened by the response both of law enforcement and of her neighbors, who helped clean up debris.

“They stepped up in this disaster and helped out,” she said, adding it reminded her to “be grateful for who we have in our lives, who help us out.”

Additional charges?

The incident began the evening of Oct. 2, after a caller from the 15000 block of Lake Vera-Purdon Road called to report the Camaro and its two occupants, who had walked toward private property after donning backpacks.

A short time later a Nevada County Sheriff’s detective driving an unmarked emergency vehicle saw the Camaro on Highway 49 near North Bloomfield Road. The detective was following the car and was spotted by Johnson, sparking a short pursuit that ending with the Camaro crashing into the Lincolns’ front yard.

Davis and Johnson fled but were located and detained by deputies and officers from the Grass Valley and Nevada City police departments, a news release stated.

Due to injuries sustained during the collision, both men were transported to Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital for treatment.

Johnson was subsequently charged by the California Highway Patrol with driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs, being under the influence of a controlled substance, hit-and-run causing property damage, and driving without a license. He was booked and released on $14,000 bond.

According to Lincoln, a large quantity of marijuana that appeared freshly cut was located in the Camaro’s trunk. But on Friday, no additional charges had been filed, and Sheriff’s Lt. Rob Bringolf said the case remains under investigation.

To contact Staff Writer Liz Kellar, email lizk@theunion.com or call 530-477-4236.


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