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Trucker was watching porn before causing fatal crash, police say

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CROWN POINT — A truck driver was wanted Wednesday on charges he was watching pornographic videos in August 2020 when he crashed into two construction vehicles, killing the driver of a tanker truck.

Clark R. Johnson, 69, of Hoopeston, Illinois, was charged Monday with reckless homicide, Level 5 felony, two felony counts of criminal recklessness and three misdemeanor counts of distracted driving.

Martin Knip, 63, of LaPorte, was killed and another construction worker was injured when Johnson failed to stop and crashed into them, Lake Criminal Court records state.

Johnson picked up a load in Schneider and driving a blue 2008 Kenworth tractor with a trailer attached north on U.S. 41 as he passed two signs indicating roadwork ahead, documents state.

Knip was driving a tanker truck filled with heated tar, which was being sprayed on freshly ground rumble strips along the shoulder of the road. Another construction worker driving a GMC Sierra pickup truck was following behind Knip's truck.

Both men, who worked for Walsh & Kelly Inc., had flashing amber lights activated, and the pickup truck also had a flashing strobe light.

The pickup truck driver told Lake County sheriff's police he looked in his rear-view mirror, realized the semitrailer driven by Johnson was going to hit him, and swerved to the right and accelerated in an attempt to avoid being hit.

Johnson's semi hit the left rear corner of the pickup, pushing it off the road, and struck the back of the semitruck driven by Knip.

Knip's tractor dislodged from its trailer, and a large amount of hot tar was sprayed across the road. The truck came to rest upside down on top of the tank, and Knip was trapped inside.

First responders found Knip dead in the cab of his truck from blunt force trauma, records state.

Construction firm fined $8,400 after death of worker

The pickup truck driver sought treatment later at an urgent care facility for pain in his upper back and shoulders, records state.

Johnson's semitrailer jackknifed, and he was taken to Riverside Medical Center in Kankakee for treatment.

Police obtained a search warrant to examine Johnson's phone and discovered he was using it immediately prior to the crash to view a website that displays pornographic videos, records state.

There was no hands-free device present in the cab of Johnson's truck, according to documents.

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