Vet Charged With DWI Has ‘Undiagnosed’ Brain Tumor

By Caroline Lowe, WCCO-TV

PLYMOUTH, Minn. (WCCO) — A Plymouth, Minn. Vietnam veteran says an undiagnosed brain tumor caused by exposure to the Agent Orange herbicide triggered a seizure that caused him to go through a red light and crash into another vehicle, injuring the driver.

Sixty-two-year-old Terry Johnson was arrested and charged after the crash in November of 2008 in Chanhassen. At the time, he was on the way home from a bar where he said he consumed four beers with a friend, but insists he was not drunk.

A urine test showed he was at .06, just short of the .08 limit to legally drive. Johnson was charged with criminal vehicular operation, DWI and careless driving. A State Patrol trooper said he had bloodshot and glassy eyes when he talked with him after the crash at the intersection of Highway 101 and Highway 5.

After Johnson was released from jail, his wife took him to a doctor, thinking he had a concussion.

“I still have no recollection whatsoever of what occurred,” said Johnson.

He said he was shocked to learn he had cancerous tumors in his brain and chest.

“They took a piece of my skull out,” he said.

His oncologist was scheduled to testify for him as a defense witness at a trial set for Tuesday. In a letter, the doctor wrote Johnson had “a blackout spell, most likely due to a seizure,” when he pulled into the intersection after first stopping for the red light.

Chuck Ramsay is Johnson’s attorney.

“The cancer Mr. Johnson has is consistent with Agent Orange,”  he said. “It was the tumor that caused the accident, according to his doctor, not the limited amount of alcohol they found in his urine.”

Just before the trial was set to begin, the prosecution offered a plea that Johnson accepted. He agreed to plead guilty to careless driving and pay a fine and restitution. In return, the more serious charges of criminal vehicular operation and DWI were dropped.

Johnson’s attorney said Johnson was happy and relieved with the resolution of the case. He hopes his unexpected cancer diagnosis will prompt other Vietnam and Korean veterans to contact the VA to see if they should be screened for possible Agent Orange health issues.

For more information about Agent Orange-related health issues, click here.

WCCO-TV’s Caroline Lowe Reports

Comments

One Comment

  1. mark from mntaxwaste.com says:

    Sorry, I don’t buy his story

    1. Gloria Tava says:

      Mark are you using a public business to post a personal statement! This is probably against business rules?

  2. Hejlena says:

    Well, since “Poor Terry” was drinking alcohol before he drove that night, I guess we’ll never really know which caused the crash, then, will we?

    1. Terry's Niece says:

      Well Hejlena, why don’t you try going through what my uncle has gone through. Not once has he asked for anyone to feel sorry for him. So wherever you got the “poor Terry” from is beyond me. In fact, I remember he would get upset when people asked him about how he was feeling after having found out about the cancer. Until something like that happens to you, you have no idea how they feel. So save your opinions for another story.

  3. johns A. stoner says:

    THAT IS TRUE HEJLNEA, AND MARK, HE WAS DRINKIN, A 0.06 IS SKETCHY, I THINK HE FOUND A WAY OUT SO HE IS USING THIS AS A WAY, TO NOT GET CHRGED FOR THIS, IT IS SAD HE HAS CANCER, AND HE CAUSED THIS ACCIDENT, BUT HE WAS DRUNK, PERIOD.

  4. Minnesota says:

    I have to agree. Don’t drink and drive

  5. Really says:

    I’ll drink to that!

  6. Common Sense up North says:

    All that intellegence coming from a stoner. Under the limit is proven. The tumors are proven. His time in Nam was proven. If the gets another DWI real soon, then question it. Till then move on.

  7. Jim says:

    As a Vietnam veteran myself, and unlike the previous commentor’s, I understand the horrors that can be caused by Agent Orange.

    I do not drink alcohol, I donate to Mother’s Against Drunk Drivers and I make it clear to my friends that do drink that I will not allow them to drive after they have been drinking in my presence.

    Could it have been a 0.06 blood alcohol level that caused this accident? Maybe, but no one so far has accepted the fact that it could well have been related to a cancerous brain tumor which caused a seizure.

    I do not condone anyone drinking and then getting behind the wheel of a vehicle, but if a doctor that understands the differential effects between a brain tumor and a blood alcohol level of 0.06 is saying that this accident was due to a seizure caused by the brain tumor, are any of you that have responded to this point educated enough to argue with a physician?

  8. Mike Jacobson says:

    .06 and driving is not against the law you idiots…why do you think he pled down? He’s taking responsibility for the action he caused with a brain tumor he got protecting your mom and dad while at war…you all should be ashamed of yourselves and move to Canada.

    1. sue says:

      so because he was in a war we have to forgive drunk driving? i believe the law should be not a drop for everyone. 0.6 is drunk in my mind and you should not be driving

      1. Kissmyapple says:

        It must be pretty lonely in your mind…

      2. Alicia says:

        How do you have the right to decide what is drunk? That is why there is a law that states the legal limit is .08 NOT .06.

  9. Chris says:

    I know Mr. Johnson personally and can attest unquestionably that he is not a drunk and that if he says the accident was caused by a seizure, it was. Period.

  10. InTheKnow says:

    The cops ALWAYS say they saw bloodshot and watery eyes. After all, they don’t show up on video tape so they are very easy to lie about. As for the rest, why was he charged when he was a .06? Sounds like more over zealous prosecution which this state is quite famous for. I am glad he was able to avoid a felony he should have never been charged with in the first place.

  11. Norge says:

    I am vet who also worked law enforcement, and unfortunatly both sides are correct on some counts. Cancers show up at a extroridinary rate among vets, not just agent orange vets. Cops do always say things that makes their case stronger, bloodshot eyes etc are mantras recorded in police reports. .06 seldom is the root cause of an accident. This is one of those ‘never-going-to know-for -sure’ scenarios.

  12. Gloria Tava says:

    All of you people who not believe terry, need to learn compassion and not everyone is the same! Terry and his family have suffered and endured the residual of him serving this country SHAME on all of you! I personally know Terry and he was honest to enough to say he had a couple of drinks! He could of lied! But he did not! Get with the program he is one of many who suffer from the ill effects of agent orange, a known substance to cause undeniable injury to ALL of our service people! I personally witnessed his surgery! SHAME ON YOU!

  13. Hejlena says:

    People, unless the man pissed into a sterile cup on the side of the road, you can betchur azz his BAC was above .06 at the time of the crash. There is a ton of information on the effects of a TBI, brain tumor, etc, and its all very traumatic on a person/family, but that’s really a separate story. The fact is he drank and drove and someone got hurt. Funny no mention of the real victim.

    1. BD says:

      Hejlena, I was going to write a lengthy post on this, but I realized one thing……
      You aren’t worth the trouble. The FACT is you don’t know anything about what happened, unless of course you were a witness on the side of the road, and if you were, provide proof. Thanks.

  14. Gloria Tava says:

    HEJLENA …. YOU ARE CRUDE, RUDE AND LACK COMPASSION … YOU KNOW NOTHING ……… ABSOLUTELY NOTHING …….. YOU HAVE NO IDEA ABOUT ANYTHING … HERE … LET ME PUT THIS WAY, SOMEDAY YOU WILL BE JUDGED FOR YOUR JUDGING … SECOND I WILL PRAY THAT YOU OR YOUR FAMILY WILL NEVER HAVE TO EXPERIENCE WHAT THIS FAMILY HAS HAD TO ENDURE AND CONTINUE TO ENDURE … AND FYI I BELIEVE THIS WAS A BLESSING IN DISGUISE AND GUESS WHAT HELJLENA .. THAT IS WHY IT IS CALLED AN ACCIDENT ………. PERIOD ……….. NO ONE WILLED TO HURT ANYONE .. HOW DARE YOU …..

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