Teen charged with manslaughter in crash that killed Rod, Paula Bramblett

Teen charged in fatal Bramblett crash

AUBURN, Ala. (WSFA) - The 16-year-old who was arrested and charged Monday with two counts of manslaughter in the deaths of Rod and Paula Bramblett has made bond and has been released from jail, according to Capt. Corey Welch with the Lee County Sheriff’s Office.

Johnston Edward Taylor, 16, of Auburn, was arrested at his home Monday on manslaughter charges, then taken to the Lee County Jail where bond was set at $50,000. His arrest marked the first time police have stated the name of the the only survivor of the crash. Until now, he’d only been referred to a 16-year-old Lee-Scott Academy student.

Investigators said Taylor’s arrest came as part of an ongoing investigation into the traffic crash. According to Auburn police, an Alabama Law Enforcement Agency Traffic Homicide Unit report confirmed Taylor’s vehicle was traveling at well over the posted 55 mph speed limit at the time of the May 25 crash.

Johnston Edward Taylor
Johnston Edward Taylor (Source: Lee County Sheriff's Office)

“Additionally, on July 1, 2019, the Auburn Police Division received the Toxicological Analysis Report from the Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences confirming the presence of marijuana in Taylor’s system,” Auburn police stated in a news release.

Taylor is being charged as an adult.

Rod Bramblett was the celebrated voice of Auburn Tigers athletics. His wife had worked for Auburn University in its Office of Information Technology. They left behind two children, Shelby and Joshua.

According to the initial traffic crash report by Auburn police, the teen driver, now identified as Taylor, told police he fell asleep at the wheel before his 2011 Jeep Laredo slammed into the back of the Bramblett’s 2017 Toyota Highlander SUV.

The collision happened at the intersection of Shug Jordan Parkway and West Sanford Avenue in Auburn around 6 p.m. that Saturday evening.

The police report stated the Jeep was traveling southbound in the outside lane of Shug Jordan approaching Samford when it hit the back of the Bramblett’s SUV right of center. The Highlander appeared to have been stationary or near stationary in the southbound outside lane of Shug Jordan at the traffic light.

According to the report, the driver of the Jeep, identified at the time only as a student of Lee-Scott Academy, said he fell asleep while driving and didn’t remember what happened.

The impact of the crash caused the Jeep to hit a pedestrian crossing signal and a traffic light pole before coming to a stop. The Highlander was pushed into the intersection and through the opposing lanes of traffic before coming to a stop on the curb.

We’ve made an open records request for a first-hand review of Taylor’s arrest records. That includes information such as how fast he was driving at the time of the crash as well as the amount of marijuana found in his system.

No court date has been set.

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