CHESTER — Montana Highway Patrol trooper Lewis Johnson was run over by a fleeing suspect near Eureka earlier this year and sustained serious injuries - but he is finally home.
Johnson spent months in recovery and rehab at a Colorado hospital, but returned to his home town of Chester on the Hi-Line on Friday, October 20, 2023.
At Chester City Park on Sunday, community members gathered to celebrate Trooper Johnson’s return with great food, live music, and good spirits.
“It's pretty overwhelming,” Trooper Johnson said, “It's been overwhelming since I left. While I was gone, I received a lot of community support, and coming home to something like this, it's unbelievable.”
While Johnson was able to focus on physical therapy and healing in Colorado, he could not wait to be back where he was born and raised.
“We needed to be home,” Johnson said, “And down there I healed my body and built my body back up. But this is where the healing of my soul is going to happen.”
Since the accident, the community has rallied together and supported Johnson. His family set up Johnson Family Strong, a Facebook page where he could keep up with friends and family at home during his recovery. Most of all, Johnson says his family is what kept him going.
“My wife and my son,” Johnson said, “They're foremost in my thoughts and from the moment I woke up after getting ran over, that was the first thing I thought about.”
Unfortunately, Trooper Johnson’s recovery is not complete. He is still working on getting mobility in his legs and his shoulder. While the road ahead is daunting, Johnson said he was ready to get back into nature with his family, as well as get back to work with the Montana Highway Patrol.
“[Montana Highway Patrol] supported me unbelievably throughout this entire situation,” Johnson said, “And it's more of a family now and I need to get back to work with them.”
As hundreds of people gathered in the small park in Chester to celebrate Johnson’s return, he felt immense gratitude not just to his inner circle of family and friends, but to the state of Montana as a whole.
“It's unbelievable the amount of support I got from the entire state, and I just really want to say thanks for everything,” Johnson said, “And as I said from the beginning, it's great to be a law enforcement officer in the state of Montana.”
Jason Allen Miller, the man accused of running over Johnson, pleaded not guilty in March to all charges, including attempted deliberate homicide, criminal endangerment, possession of dangerous drugs, and aggravated kidnapping.
People may donate to the Johnson family through GoFundMe or send checks payable to Lewis and Kate Johnson to PO Box 356, Chester, Montana, 59522.