DILL CITY — Before he died Thursday trying to elude police near Dill City, a Sentinel man had posted a foreboding image of the Grim Reaper and a joke about living dangerously on his Facebook page.
Quentin Johnson, 27, on Jan. 16 posted a photo depicting two people in animal costumes skateboarding down a mountainous road with the saying “Don't take life so seriously. It's not like you're going to be get out alive.” And on Dec. 8, he posted an image of the Grim Reaper that states “I refuse to tip toe through life only to arrive safely at death.”
On Christmas Day, Johnson posted a profile photo of himself wearing dark sunglasses and black clothing. It's night and day to a couple of years ago, when Johnson's future appeared to be bright and he was looking forward to graduating from a wind training program and expecting the birth of his second child.
Methamphetamine, it appears, is at least somewhat to blame. Records reveal several encounters with law enforcement over his drug use, including a high-speed chase Thursday that led to his death and took the lives of Burns Flat police officer Kristian Willhight, 36, and Washita County Undersheriff Brian Beck, 39.
Beck had been attempting to arrest Johnson at Johnson's home Thursday morning when the man fled in his pickup, according to the Oklahoma Highway Patrol. He crashed into a 10-foot embankment south of Dill City. Minutes later, Beck and Willhight collided in an intersection three miles away; neither survived.
Johnson had already been in trouble for drug use; he was sentenced to five years of probation for possession of a controlled dangerous substance in 2006, at the age of 20. Three years later, in 2009, he was the subject of an NPR story about wind industry jobs in Oklahoma and in it, his voice sounded positive. He was being trained as a wind technician and was searching for a high-paying job in the field.
He'd been working in the oil fields since he graduated high school, the story reported, earning $50,000 a year at the industry's peak and supporting his family. The report featured two smiling photos of Johnson — one holding his daughter and another of him climbing up a wind turbine.
It's unknown whether that career move ever panned out. Recently, he spent a year working as a private contractor in the oil field for Hughes Specialty Services near Elk City, said chief executive Jason Hughes. In September, Johnson left the company on good terms.
“He was a good employee,” Hughes said. “He never failed a drug test.”
A relative of Johnson, reached by phone at his grandparents' home in Sentinel, declined to comment.
On Dec. 11, Beck and a Washita County sheriff's deputy visited Johnson at his home to check out a tip that he had been using drugs, according to an affidavit for an arrest warrant filed in Washita County District Court.
There, they found drug paraphernalia and a stolen handgun. Johnson admitted he had been selling methamphetamine to make money since he had stopped working. And he was using again, despite being clean for three years.
Beck didn't arrest Johnson that day, but came back Thursday with an arrest warrant.
Lt. Brian Orr, a spokesman for the Oklahoma Highway Patrol, said the pursuit was reported at 9:40 a.m. Beck initially had some type of car trouble, which may explain why he and the Burns Flat police officer crashed three miles behind Johnson. However, a Washita County sheriff's deputy witnessed Johnson crash and reported it at 10:11 a.m.
Initial reports were that neither law enforcement officer was wearing a seat belt, but revised information provided Friday showed Willhight was.
Services set for Beck, Willhight and Johnson
Services for Beck and Willhight are planned for Tuesday at the First Baptist Church in Elk City, according to the Oklahoma Highway Patrol. Services for Beck will be held at 10:30 a.m. and services for Willhight will be held at 2:30 p.m.
Services for Johnson are planned for 2 p.m. Monday at First Baptist Church in Sentinel. Musick-Varner-McClure Funeral Home is handling the arrangements.