Liberty County constable critically injured in crash released from hospital


LIBERTY COUNTY, Texas – Liberty County Precinct 1 Constable Justin Johnston was released from the hospital Saturday and is back home after being critically injured when a truck slammed into his patrol vehicle, the county Sheriff's Office confirmed. 

He was taken off a ventilator and has been breathing on his own since Feb. 19.

"We are very encouraged with the doctors’ reports and Justin’s progress thus far. He is off the ventilator and breathing on his own. Thank you for your continued support and prayers," family members said.

The 39-year-old driver of a red pickup truck that slammed into Johnston, also has been released from the hospital.

Officials said the driver, Samuel Leyva had his blood drawn at the hospital and results of the blood test are pending. 

Justin Johnston was just doing his job, helping deputies direct traffic on Highway 146 when he was injured.

“There were several deputies here with marked units, with all their emergency lights on,” Capt. Ken DeFoor said.

Investigators at the scene said Leyva used the shoulder to pass a line of stopped vehicles, blew through a barricade and slammed head-on into an unoccupied county police vehicle.

Johnston was standing outside it.

“The red pickup truck hit the county unit at a high rate of speed,” DeFoor said. “The truck spun around sideways, and the rear-end of the truck is what hit the constable from Precinct 1 and knocked him to the pavement.”

Johnston’s injuries were severe and he was flown to Memorial Hermann Hospital in Houston.

Investigators said Leyva had his 8-year-old daughter in the truck with him when he caused the crash.

They were both alert and talking but complaining of injuries. They were also flown to the hospital to be examined.

“Why would someone pass on the shoulder, go through a barricade and hit a car head-on?” DeFoor said. “That’s hopefully what the DPS investigation will figure out.”