It was just after 1 a.m. Tuesday morning when Helen Thompson got a text message from her son, Avry Johnson, who said he was heading home after visiting his girlfriend.
It would turn out to be the last message the 21-year-old would ever send his mother, according to The Omaha World-Herald. A half-hour after sending it, Johnson’s Kia Sportage slammed into the back of a Nebraska State Patrol cruiser on the shoulder of a highway in Omaha, police say. Both Johnson and the driver of the patrol car were taken to a nearby hospital.
Back at home, Thompson became worried as it grew later and her son hadn’t yet returned. He didn’t answer a phone call, Thompson said in an interview with WLKY, and she started to get this strange urge to go out and look for her missing boy.
She said it was “just like a little voice.”
And its message? “Get up and go find your son,” she told WLKY.
So Thompson started driving with her daughter, she told KETV7. They headed down I-680, looking for any sign of Johnson, when they happened upon a horrific crash. There was a car that “looked like an accordion” from the impact, Thompson said — and it also resembled her son’s car.
But Thompson said her daughter was skeptical of her terrifying hunch.
She recalled to WLKY: “I told my daughter, I said, ‘My son is over there.’ She said ‘No, mom, he's not there’ and I said ‘Yes, he is. He's over there.’”
That deadly premonition proved true. The mangled vehicle was her son’s car, and Johnson — who police say did not have a seat belt on — was pronounced dead at the hospital after suffering chest injuries, the World-Herald reported. The police officer he crashed into suffered a fractured arm but was released from the hospital.
The collision sent both cars into a ditch on the side of the highway, police say.
Johnson’s parents told the World-Herald that their son has a history of seizures, and it’s likely he had another one before the crash. Officials say an autopsy is under way.
Gary Johnson mourned the death of his “happy-go-lucky” son, telling KETV7 that he “worked hard” and was friendly to all.
Thompson said she’s just trying to make sense of his sudden passing.
“It feels like this is a dream,” she told WKLY, “and I should wake up and my son should be here.”