VAN BUREN COUNTY, Mich. – Gut-wrenching testimony was delivered in court Wednesday from Justin Berryhill about what happened after a serious crash on County Road 388.
The incident happened on November 13, 2012. Berryhill, a passenger, was the only survivor. His wife’s cousin Brittney King was driving while his two young daughters were passengers in the car.
The three died due to injuries sustained in the crash.
Police and a medical expert testified David Johnson, 32, was driving drunk in a pickup truck and hit the family car while he was trying to pass another vehicle. Police say his pickup then partially drove over the family’s car because of its size and the speed and force at which it was traveling.
When Berryhill became conscious again following the accident, he was screaming for his two young daughters. “Whenever I woke up and people were trying to work on me, I told them, don’t worry about me I just want them to get my babies because I really couldn’t move. I just wanted them to get to my babies. I just kept saying ‘get to my babies’,” said Justin Berryhill.
Officers on the scene initially thought there was just a pile of crumpled clothes in the backseat. When they realized there were children in there, they discovered the oldest, Cassadi Berryhill, was still breathing and trying to speak and an officer wrapped her in a coat to keep her warm. They family broke down in court as they discovered one of their little girls was trying to speak to officers on the scene just before she died.
“When you live for somebody you know and then they get took from you, you don’t really know what to do anymore,” said Justin Berryhill.
Police also testified that the girl’s died from internal injuries partially associated with the adult seat-belts they were wearing and car seats could have saved the their lives.
“If they were in the car seat, would they be alive today?”, asked Johnson’s defense attorney. “Yes I believe they would be,” said Traffic Reconstructionist Sergeant James Campbell with the Michigan State Police.
The Berryhill family fought back while in tears saying the reason their daughters are dead was because of Johnson’s drunk driving. Testimony in court revealed Johnson’s blood alcohol level was point-32.
The family feels this is a case of the defense blaming the victim.
“Yes, I do I definitely do. It’s his fault. Everything is his fault. When I don’t even remember having seen the car coming, literally, I don’t remember and boom. I woke up. There’s no way we could have avoided it,at all,” says Justin Berryhill.
“He took the life of my babies and my best friend.” Alicia Quinones as she remembered her daughters Cassadi, Kandice and her cousin Brittney.
The family still has a fund set up in Berryhill’s name at Chemical Bank for those who have been donating to support the family.