PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) — A Phoenix family is confirming that they lost a loved one in a violent crash on Interstate 10 in Chandler on Thursday morning. Nikki Johnson says she lost her partner, Ryan Gooding, who was among those killed in a truck accident just after 6am on I-10 near Chandler Boulevard.
Johnson says he will never forget that morning. “This is my worst nightmare,” she said. “I got a message from your front desk administrative assistant and they said Ryan didn’t show up today and this was at 11am.” When Johnson’s calls and messages to Gooding went unanswered, she became desperate. “The first thing I did, I’m a technician, I Googled it and I saw the accident, and I don’t know. It’s so unlike him to never stop texting,” she explained.
The Arizona Department of Public Safety says a distracted truck driver hauling garbage failed to slow down and crashed into two cars, killing five people, including Gooding. “It doesn’t feel real, I think I’m still in shock,” Johnson said.
Johnson and Gooding were due to marry in June, looking forward to their bright future. The two also have a 9-year-old boy named Apollo. “I proposed to him in December, and he was so excited. He never took off his engagement ring; he used it to sleep. He just never took it off,” she said.
She says the last few hours have been excruciating. “I’m teetering between crying and making dumb jokes because me and Ryan like to make a lot of jokes and cry some more, getting strong for Apollo and talking about heaven and where we’re going,” she said.
However, Johnson says if there’s one message she hopes to convey, it’s never underestimate your loved ones. “Hug your families tonight. This is the only request we have; just hug them as tight as you can because you just don’t know,” she said.
The family created a GoFundMe to help the family with funeral expenses. If you would like to donate, click/tap here.
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