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News >  Crime/Public Safety

Uber driver hospitalized after attack on Christmas Eve; family fundraising for medical costs

Dec. 25, 2022 Updated Sun., Dec. 25, 2022 at 8:15 p.m.

Duane Johnson, 57.  (Courtesy of Johnson family)
Duane Johnson, 57. (Courtesy of Johnson family)

Duane and Andrea Johnson had planned to have everyone over for Christmas brunch on Sunday morning.

Instead, they spent the holiday at Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center after Duane Johnson, a husband and father of three, was shot in the chest in a drive-by shooting on the morning of Christmas Eve, the family said.

Duane Johnson, 57, who works as an Uber driver, was transporting a group of four passengers from Spokane Valley to Spokane before 4 a.m. on Christmas Eve when a white SUV came up alongside the driver side of his Volkswagen Jetta on Interstate 90 near the Thor-Freya exit.

“All I heard was pop, pop, pop, pop,” Johnson said from a hospital bed on Christmas morning. “I didn’t hear or see much, but I noticed my driver’s window was broke open.”

He was worried that the passenger in the front seat was hit, but his main concern was a passenger in the backseat who had a finger that was shot off, he said.

As the white SUV sped off, a passenger dialed 911 on Johnson’s cellphone and said they were going to Sacred Heart. With a blown-out tire driving up hill on icy roads, Johnson said it was miracle they arrived at the hospital.

“I don’t know how I made it,” Johnson said. “From there, I had three or four (police) officers pull up behind me. I jumped out – it was chaos – that’s when it hit me when I started moving that I had been shot.”

A bullet fractured his ribs, before piercing and collapsing one of his lungs and lodging itself near his spine. The bullet is not in a position where it is endangering him, so doctors don’t plan to remove it, Johnson said.

He also lost a lot of his blood, his wife, Andrea Johnson, said.

“It was really touch and go” at first, she said. Her husband remained conscious the entire time. “Through all of it, he was just praying. He was more worried about me being scared for him than he was for his safety.”

Her husband was more concerned about the wellbeing of his passengers as well, she said.

“All things considered, he’s doing very well,” Andrea Johnson said.

He was transferred out of the intensive care unit on Sunday morning, she said. The family hopes to have the drainage tube in Johnson’s lung removed on Monday.

It’s unclear what the motive for the shooting was. Johnson’s family described it as a “random” and “senseless” attack.

“Anyone knows my husband knows he’s the kindest, most giving person,” Andrea Johnson said.

On a GoFundMe page, her brother Steve Smith described Duane Johnson as, generous, compassionate, whose “love for his family and his faith is uncompromising and inspiring.”

The GoFundMe page was about halfway to its $10,000 goal on Sunday morning.

Andrea Johnson said she’s grateful for the support and, most of all, that her husband survived.

“It’s the best Christmas present,” she said. “We’re just taking it day by day.”

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