Twitter Tragedy: 'I can't believe this is happening'

Twitter Tragedy: 'I can't believe this is happening' »Play Video
Caran Johnson tweeted about a fatal crash on Interstate 205 Wednesday not knowing it was her husband who had died.

VANCOUVER, Wash. -- A Clark County woman's ordeal had many of us in tears just hearing about it.

Caran Johnson tweeted about the crash on Interstate 205 in Vancouver Wednesday, warning other drivers about the backup. Then she learned, it was her husband who had died in the accident.

The story went viral, and unfortunately, a lot of people just read the headline "WOMAN LIVE-TWEETS HUSBAND'S DEATH" and assumed she coldheartedly did this from the passenger seat of his car at the scene.

That couldn't be further from the truth.

Caran Johnson is someone many of us in news only know as @scancouver. That's the Twitter handle she uses to share information she hears on the scanners with the rest of us, primarily to be helpful.

Wednesday was no different.

As she spread the word about the crash on I-205, warning drivers to avoid the area, she began putting the pieces together that her husband might just be involved. He'd left work early and that would have been his route home.

"We actually got to know each other because she tweets out the local scanner," said Cheryl Bledsoe, an official with Clark County emergency services.

Caran's one of several scanner hounds in the area she met several years ago via Twitter -- specifically through gatherings of people who'd only known each other through Twitter, called tweet-ups.

"She was sharing information as she always does about traffic accidents and stuff so that people can avoid the area, and it's very helpful for those who watch Twitter on a regular basis to know what's going on in the community. The fact that those things sort of collided all in the same time was freakish really," said Bledsoe.

Trooper Will Finn was one person Caran engaged on Twitter as she sought information about the crash and the types of vehicles involved.

"I had to take a minute at that very moment, and sit back in my chair and take a deep breath and go, I can't believe this is happening," said Finn.

He confirmed with other troopers at the scene, it was Craig Johnson, Caran's husband, who had died. But it's what came next -- a measure of humanity -- that surpassed the confines of what social media can express. The troopers went in person to Caran's house to break the news. Trooper Finn says it was important to them that she heard it in this manner, not from social media, not from multiple sources, but from a human being who could answer her questions and show compassion.

"By the time we figured out this was all falling into place and this might be a family member, we acted quite quickly," said Finn.

Bledsoe organized a fund to help Caran pay for her husband's funeral expenses. If you'd like to help Caran and her sons, click here for the various ways to donate.

Troopers aren't saying yet what they think caused the crash, but they believe they've eliminated alcohol or drugs as factors. Caran did share that her husband had been feeling faint at work.

The other person hurt in the crash was a 50-year-old grandmother from Tacoma, Wash. Her family told KATU's Anna Canzano she's in the hospital in critical condition with a long list of serious injuries.