Moms of auto-ped victim, DWI suspect are friends

January 6, 2012 4:06:37 AM PST
A driver now faces charges for a crash that killed a man in scooter. The victim died while trying to save his girlfriend's son, who was sitting in his lap.

Just 24 hours after Clifford Johnson, 56, was hit and killed while riding his motorized scooter, police have charged the driver of the SUV that hit him. And in a strange twist, the mother of the accused is friends with the mother of the victim.

Wilmer Farley III has yet to be transferred here to the Harris County Jail from the city jail. He is charged with intoxication manslaughter. Police tell us their investigation determined that Farley, 20, was intoxicated when officers arrested him at the scene.

The accident happened near the 9300 block of west Montgomery in Acres Homes. Johnson had his one-year-old son in his lap and was thrown more than 20 feet after he was hit. He likely saved the child's life.

Johnson was on his scooter and maneuvered into the street to avoid mud and water that was blocking his path. The debris on the sidewalk was the result of what the city's public's work department is calling a minor leak on a major water line that services the neighborhood.

Johnson's mother's told us as heartbroken as she is over the loss of her only son, she forgives Farley.

"I know he didn't mean to kill my son, but you can't drive around under the influence of alcohol. You can't operate a vehicle like that," Rowana Hubbard said. "He's a young man. He's 20. Of course I forgive him. The Bible says if I don't, I can't get into heaven. I intend to go where my son is."

And Farley's mother has heard it first hand. Over the phone she said she called Hubbard because she has known her for years.

"I feel awful. I'm just devastated. I'm devastated what happened to her son," she told us.

But she says her son, Farley, was not intoxicated.

"They always take a long time; they put stuff off, and this is not the first time," resident Nita Ellis said.

People are also blaming the city. Workers were out fixing the water main leak that Johnson was apparently trying to avoid when he drove into the road and was hit. The city of Houston's Public Works Department has been aware of the problem since December 21. They called it a minor leak and said the holidays delayed repair.

Little comfort for Hubbard.

"My son had to lose his life because of it," she said.

Crews with the city's public works department are fixing that leak on West Montgomery.

When asked whether the city had any role in Johnson's death, a spokesperson said "to go that route is a bit premature," and that's all "speculative."

Farley's bond has been set at $50,000. He has yet to make a first court appearance.