Steps to healing the loss of Frances Johnston
Frances Johnston is the neighbor that I will never forget, she’s also the neighbor that I never met. On January 15, 2015 while sitting upright in my bed watching a show called RESURRECTION I heard a ‘thud’ in my backyard. My backyard at the time backed up to a major street, Dobson Road and on the other side of the street is the semiconductor giant Intel. The nights in the Ocotillo Lake subdivision were usually exceptionally pleasant and quiet for me until Thursday night, that’s when Wanda House hit and killed Frances Johnson as she walked in the bike lane one evening around 8:30-9pm. Read the story here. I was jarred that evening by what I thought was a thud or a gutted breath sound. Investigating the situation further I went outside and saw 911 responders tending to a body in the bike lane. They worked on the body as they passed me and my neighbors and put the body into the rear of the ambulance. That body was Frances Johnston’s.
I had the pleasure of meeting Sarah Stewart, Frances’ sister, online. She contacted me on Facebook, not too long after the incident to inquire of any additional information that I might be able to share with her; she was doing her own investigation and rightfully so. Other than my published blogged recollections, I had none. Sarah was relentless in staying on top of her sisters case and not long after she forwarded me information on the hit and run suspect who was being charged with her sisters death. The woman that was driving that Thursday night in the bike lane was Wanda House. I encouraged Sarah to be strong and to keep me in the loop of this case.
Sarah would remain connected to me via Facebook. I used to frequent Facebook daily and her efforts invoked me to produce a story update when the hit and run suspect was arrested. Sarah sent me a cell phone snapshot of the suspect: Wanda House. I titled the piece “Next thing you know… There’s Closure,” when in fact, this case was just getting started. There was surely a trial coming and more sustained pains for the family. I knew Sarah would keep me in the loop via Facebook when the time came. Unfortunately our Facebook connection ended about a year ago when my career schedule picked up. I found myself knee deep in script copy writes, shoot dates and edits that I had very little time to socialize on the book of faces — like I used to.
This morning I woke up to check my morning blog administration notes and saw that the archived write-up on Frances’ hit and run had been accessed. It made me think of Frances, so I began to Google information to bring me current on her case and you wouldn’t believe I found.
I found an article dated for yesterday 3/27/17 — Wanda House was sentenced to 3-years in prison and 3-years probation. It’s not clear if she will lose her real estate license or whether she’ll be able to reclaim it in the future.
Sarah Stewart and Frances McMillian (Frances Johnston’s daughter) will still be missing their loved one. Their sentence is for life.
My heart and prayers go out to Frances’ family. Every now and again when I visit the Ocotillo Intel plant I am sure to wave at Fran’s memorial that is so lovingly cared for at S. Dobson Road and Canyon Way. I didn’t know Fran personally, but she totally touched my life. The memory of her will always be ‘in my backyard.’ I won’t be forgetting Frances anytime soon nor will I forget Sarah. I’m certain Sarah was willing me the vibe to research and reveal todays judicial resolve.
Life is short. Love is forever.
Get busy doing it!
Frances was just walking one night, trying to remain fit
When Wanda, leaving the bar, drifted in the bike lane and did hit
something with her car, though she didn’t know WHAT it could be
so she pulled over, got out and concluded there was nothing there to see.
She continued on her route home, likely still operating under a bar buzz phase
and didn’t realize the fatal harm that she caused until seeing the news the next day.
She went into a fit and her family members felt the need to call the police and a doctor.
Wanda was no doubt beside herself with grief and nothing could stop her.
Coppers showed up to “cop” her and started an investigation into Frances’ exit jeers.
She died in January 2015 via the bike lane scene now Wanda’s sentenced to 3-years.
3-years? Is that all that a 47-year old life is worth these days?
I realize Sarah Stewart and her family remain in the mourning phase.
I no longer reside in Ocotillo Lakes, and have taken away some pretty found memories,
though they do not overshadow the love of Frances Johnston by her beloved family.
I feel it.
And of the wound, I pray time will heal it.
One minute you’re alive, going for a walk to think on ‘thangs,
next thing you know your introspection leads you into the bike lane…
Next thing we learn is that in Arizona it is against the law to walk in the bike lane,
but there were no sidewalks along that side of the road nor signs to inform the same.
There was indeed a sidewalk on the opposite side of the street
at the same block where Wanda and Frances did meet
therefore Wanda will only reap
3-years jail time plus the same in probation
Still it won’t erase the Johnston’s pain. No comparable relation.
I’m glad justice did not forget Frances and that her case did come to light
God bless Sarah and Frances daughter. I pray healing in their family’s life.