The crash investigation into a man found dead along a busy roadway last year, is stuck in neutral.
Around 8 a.m. on June 23, 2012, South Bend police officers were dispatched to a one vehicle wreck in the 5200 block of S. Miami St., on the city’s southeast side.
There cops found Maximino Colon Jr., 37, of Elkhart, dead in the cargo hold of his friend’s GMC Denali. At the time of the crash, his death was deemed "suspicious" as Colon Jr. had no visible signs of trauma, and damage to the SUV was minor at best.
Almost seven months later on Jan. 15, the St. Joseph County Prosecutor's Office charged Colon Jr.’s friend, Armando Johnson, 31, of South Bend, with three misdemeanors relating to the crash: DUI Endangerment, DUI with a Controlled Substance and Driving with a Suspended Driver's License.
It's what Johnson is not charged with that’s particularly interesting. Even though the father of two was driving the SUV when it crashed, he currently does not face any charges related to Colon Jr.’s death. That's because the St. Joseph County Coroner’s Office conducted an autopsy. Toxicology results found Colon Jr. died from a lethal accidental overdose of heroin and alcohol, and was likely already lying dead in the cargo hold at the time of impact.
While they say time heals all wounds, it's been just nine months and Colon Jr.’s good friend seems to be among those who've forgotten all about the crash along S. Miami St.
On Monday morning, Johnson was seen laughing and walking his way out of St. Joseph County Traffic and Misdemeanor Court following a status hearing for his three misdemeanor charges.
When asked for a comment, he simply responded with, “About what?” NewsCenter 16 reminded Johnson about that fateful June crash involving his perfectly polished gold GMC Denali and his deceased friend, but he insisted he was not familiar with the reference.
"I’m clueless as to what you guys are talking about,” he said, “Sorry, yeah I don't know.”
When asked if he knew how Colon Jr. ended up dead in the back of his vehicle, Johnson replied, “back where?”
Literally lying through his teeth, shy of severe memory loss, Johnson walked away from the courthouse and into the same gold SUV involved in the crash.
“Why are you still filming me?” he asked news cameras, still claiming he was unfamiliar with the death of Max Colon Jr. With a smile and a wave from inside the vehicle, Johnson was then whisked away by a female friend.
Court documents indicate Johnson lives along the 1800 block of N. Elmer St., on South Bend's Northwest side. By Monday afternoon, the over-sized Denali was parked outside his two-story home. Johnson however still was not in the mood to talk about the incident in question.
“Sorry to disappoint you guys,” he told NewsCenter 16. And while his in-person denial raises questions about how remorseful Johnson feels, a post on his Facebook Page seems to contradict his story.
The post reads: "Max my dear brother, I love you so much. I know I will see you when it is my time. Words can't describe the pain I have knowing I'm going to live the rest of my life without you. I pray for your family and friends because they feel the same as I do. I miss you so much, but I will not let your death tear me apart. I'm going to use it to inspire myself to be the best man I can be. To all my friends and family, thank you for all of your support and prayers. I appreciate each and everyone of you."
If found guilty and sentenced to the full extent of the law, Johnson will spend 26 months in state prison for all three misdemeanor charges.
Johnson will return to St. Joseph County Traffic and Misdemeanor Court at 8 a.m. on Apr. 15.
Despite having been ruled an accidental overdose last year, the investigation into Max Colon Jr.’s death remains open.
To read our original story about Max Colon Jr.’s untimely passing, click here.