State trooper Michael Johnson killed

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(Host) Authorities say the man wanted in connection with the death of a Vermont State Trooper is still at large as of Monday evening. Police say 23-three-year old Eric Daley was driving the car that struck Sergeant Michael Johnson on Interstate 91 in Norwich on Sunday.

VPR’s Steve Zind has the details:

(Sound from police remarks) “On behalf of the men and women of the Vermont State Police, our thoughts and prayers go out to the entire Johnson family at this time of great loss and sadness. We are forever… (sound of crying) excuse me….”

(Zind) It’s the first time in the history of the Vermont State Police that a trooper has been killed while trying to stop a crime. At a briefing in Norwich Monday, State Police Captain Glenn Cutting said the search for Daley has spread to three states.

(Cutting) “Everybody is looking for this individual. As far as the State Police are concerned, we have a large number of both uniformed and detectives working this case. To give you a number, I would say 300 of us all over the state looking for this person.”

(Zind) Police say Sergeant Johnson was following standard procedure when he placed spike strips in the southbound lane of the interstate in order to stop Daley. Daley had been pulled over for speeding but sped off when a trooper asked for permission to search his car. He was being pursued by two troopers, when he swerved onto the median and hit Johnson. Daley then fled on foot.

An unsuspecting canoeist gave Daley a ride across the Connecticut River to Hanover. He then traveled south – police aren’t sure how – and was last seen in Springfield Sunday evening. Daley had recently moved from Springfield to Lebanon and, according to authorities, has a record that includes prior arrests for leaving the scene of an accident, simple assault and possession of a controlled substance. Police say they believe Daley is traveling in a gray, 1997 Toyota Camry with New Hampshire license plate 177-103.

Johnson was a 16-year veteran of the State Police. He is survived by his wife and three young children. He grew up in St. Albans where he played high school basketball. While a trooper, he coached high school basketball in Bethel. Johnson was hired recently to coach the boys basketball team at Oxbow High School in Bradford.

For Vermont Public Radio, I’m Steve Zind in Norwich.

(Host) Police say Eric Daley is 5-foot-10, and weighs 170 pounds. He has brown hair and blue eyes. Anyone with information is asked to call the state police in Rockingham, (802) 875-2112.

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