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Driver in fatal collision that caused the death of Turlock coach gets probation
John Williams
Longtime Turlock High basketball coach John Williams was killed in a three-vehicle collision on Dec. 29, 2023 outside of Pitman High School while on his way to coach a game. The teenager who was behind the wheel of the car that caused the fatal collision was recently sentenced to probation (Photo by Katie Day).

The teenager who was behind the wheel in the collision that claimed the life of beloved Turlock High basketball coach Johnathan Williams was sentenced to probation for his deadly actions.

Williams, 48, was killed in a three-vehicle collision that happened on Dec. 29, 2023, in the area of West Christoffersen Parkway and North Kilroy Road, near Pitman High School. Williams was a passenger in a 2018 Dodge Journey driven by his 19-year-old son, Jordan Williams.

Jordan was on W. Christoffersen Parkway and was preparing to turn left onto N. Kilroy Road when the Dodge was struck by a Toyota Camry driven by a 16-year-old boy. (He has since turned 17).

The investigation by the Turlock Police Department’s Major Accident Investigation Team found that the Camry driver was traveling at 95 miles per hour as he approached the intersection. The report said he sped up to 98 miles per hour in the 2.1 seconds before he hit the brakes and collided with the Dodge.

The Camry struck the Dodge at an approximate speed of 60 miles per hour, according to the MAIT report.

The force of the collision sent the Camry into a third vehicle that was stopped at the intersection.

In total, eight people were taken to the hospital following the collision. Williams was the only fatality.

The MAIT report stated Jordan showed “due regard as he entered the intersection on a green light and began his turn on a yellow light. At this time the Toyota Camry was more than 550 feet south of the intersection.”

The report concluded that the Camry would not have been in the intersection if the teen driver had not been speeding. According to the report, the teenager told the officers he was “trying to beat the yellow light.”

The 17-year-old boy was arrested and booked on suspicion of vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence, failure to obey restricted driver’s license provisions, unsafe speed, and reckless driving resulting in bodily injury.

Williams, also known as “Big John,” was a fixture in Turlock basketball for many years. He was actively involved in youth camps and was the longtime assistant for Turlock’s boys’ varsity basketball team alongside Doug Cornfoot. In 2019, he took the helm as the Bulldogs’ varsity girls head coach. He served in the position until midway through the 2020-21 season. Since then, he has served as an assistant for both Cornfoot and current girls head coach Erica Hernandez.

Prior to the sentencing, Williams’ family, who are represented by attorney Adam Stewart, gave a victim impact statement:

“Hello all, my name is Shea Williams and I am Johnathan Williams’ daughter. I’ve always known how much I’ve loved and appreciated my dad and the man that he is and today I am here to tell you who he was and exactly just what he meant to me.

“Now, to be specific John was my step dad, he’s raised me since I was two years old, along with my 3 other siblings until I was 6 and my little brother was born. All together there are 5 of us. Five human beings left without a great dad because of the decision of a single human being.

“I recently have looked up the question “what does a good father provide” and it gave me the answer “a good dad exemplifies integrity, responsibility, and respect. Teaching his children valuable life lessons through his actions.” My dad did exactly that. Not only did he do exactly that to just his own children he did that to the other almost 300 children that were not his own that he coached over many years.

“Now, the end of that quote said “teaching his children through his actions” my dad no longer has the opportunity to do that.

“Now, speaking only for me not the rest of my siblings, I am only 25 years old. At 16 I thought I knew everything, at 18 I thought I knew everything, and at 22 I thought knew everything. I was humbled every year by my dad who never gave up on me when my ignorance was stubborn. He continued to teach me about life and even when he may not have known the answer at the end of the day all he wanted to make sure that any of us did was what was right. That’s all he wanted from us. Now, it may at the end of the day seem like an easy thing to do and a basic rule to life and it is but as present day came very fast I’m so much more aware of situations where he would be the perfect human being to talk to and get life advice from. Not just in my life but advice on how to pay it forward to other people’s lives. See my dad was one of the most selfless humans I’ve ever met. It started the day I met him. My dad raised me for 22 years. Twenty-two years he protected, provided, and loved me when he had absolutely no obligation to. Again he didn’t do it just for me.

“It’s hard to write this letter because how do you express in one letter the way a dad affects your life, or the love you’ve had for somebody for 22 years. How do you express the grief that you see on your family’s faces passing the halls, or how our house doesn’t feel like a home anymore.

“We all make choices everyday; small ones, big ones, life changing ones. One choice that this person made to go 98 MPH in a residential/school zone altered the way my family and friends live our lives on the daily forever.

“In trying to seek more from this situation, I personally have struggled in doing so considering the lack of remorse I have felt from not only the defendant but his family as well.

“In posing punishment in an appropriate sentence please don’t forget that this is something that we will have to live with for the rest of our lives and something that can be over for him very soon.”