Car chase ends with fatality

BUNKER HILL (Jan. 11, 2018) – A high-speed chase Thursday evening ended about half an hour after it began, with the death of the driver when his vehicle crashed into a Bunker Hill church’s nativity scene and a tree, then caught fire.

At 8:11 p.m., Thursday, Jan. 4, an Illinois State Police trooper attempted to stop a 2002 Pontiac driven by Christopher Johnson, 32, of Jerseyville, for a traffic stop. The vehicle fled from the stop for an unknown reason, and the trooper terminated the stop. A short while later, Johnson’s vehicle was spotted by a Macoupin County Sheriff’s deputy, who attempted to stop the vehicle, but Johnson fled from the stop at a high rate of speed. Johnson was traveling eastbound on Warren Street (Staunton-Bunker Hill Road) at a high rate of speed when he lost control of the vehicle, which left the roadway to the north and struck the nativity scene at First Congregational Church in Bunker Hill, then caught fire after striking a tree on the church’s property at approximately 8:39 p.m.

The fire was extinguished by the Bunker Hill Fire Department, and Johnson had to be extricated from the vehicle. He was pronounced dead on the scene by Macoupin County Coroner Brad Targhetta at 9:35 p.m. An autopsy has been scheduled.

Other agencies on the scene were Bunker Hill Area Ambulance, Staunton Ambulance, Brighton Police Department, Bunker Hill Police Department and the Macoupin County Sheriff’s Office. The crash is still under investigation by the ISP Traffic Crash Reconstruction Unit.

“There has been a terrible accident,” said Pastor Jeremy R. Wood of First Congregational Church. “A man fleeing police sped at high speeds through Bunker Hill, crashed through our nativity set, and hit the tree in the corner of our church yard. Please pray for the young man who lost his life, his family, our country and city boys who are working very hard in bitter temperatures, and our church in the days ahead.”

A funeral for Johnson has been set for 6 p.m., Thursday, Jan. 11, at Bethalto Church of God; burial will be private. Additional funeral information can be found at