NewsCovering Colorado


Fort Carson soldier dead and another in critical condition after suspected DUI crash

Deadly overnight crash closes Platte Avenue east of downtown for several hours
Posted at 4:45 AM, Sep 17, 2023
and last updated 2023-09-26 02:04:26-04

COLORADO SPRINGS — Fort Carson confirmed one soldier is dead and another is in critical condition after a possible DUI crash last weekend.

Colorado Springs Police said the crash happened just after 2 a.m. on Sunday, Sept. 17 along Platte Avenue between Prospect and Institute. The victim in the crash has been identified as 22-year-old Randy Castro.

Police said the driver, 23-year-old Jermell Johnkin, who is also a Fort Carson soldier, was arrested and is charged with vehicular homicide, vehicular assault, and DUI.

CSPD said Johnkin, Castro, and another soldier were in the vehicle traveling eastbound on East Platte Avenue when it lost control and struck the center median curb. They said the car hit a tree, rolled over, and ejected the passengers before coming to rest in the middle of the median. In the arrest affidavit, Johnkin told police that he was going up to 20 mph over the speed limit. A witness told police he saw the car hit two curbs and go airborne approximately 2.5 cars high.

The arrest affidavit said Johnkin told police he was at The Mansion nightclub in downtown Colorado Springs and left around 1:30 a.m. The document said he told police he had taken two shots of cognac that night.

Police said Castro was pronounced dead at a nearby hospital while the other soldier is currently in critical condition. Officers said Johnkin received medical attention and was booked into the El Paso County Jail.

One neighbor in the area said she heard the crash happen and was one of the first people on the scene.

“I threw some clothes on, came out, and met up with my neighbors who were already out here. There were two bodies lying in the median that weren't moving. It was the loudest, longest smashing sound that I've heard of," said Marea Janae.

She said this was not the first time she had been woken up in the middle of the night to the sounds of metal twisting. She said especially after dark, many cars speed along the road. She said she has heard many hit the drainage dips along eastbound Platte Ave and said she has seen many cars swerve to try to avoid them. She said that combined with speeding and drinking is never a good outcome.

"At least five times I've woken up to that exact same sound of a loud smash as the car hits this dramatic dip over here," said Janae. "I've seen at least two cars wreck into that tree. There's glass on the ground over there from previous accidents."

CSPD's general traffic enforcement team said speeding along the route isn’t more of a problem than any other roadway in town, except for Powers & I-25 where they said excessive speed is the worst.

Colorado court records show this is not the first time Johnkin has been caught speeding. Records show he has been ticketed three different times since March for driving 90 and up in a 75-mile-per-hour zone.

Castro, a resident of Stafford, Virginia, joined the Army in Dec. 2019 and arrived at Fort Carson on Aug. 30th, 2021.

“We extend our deepest condolences to Specialist Randy Castro’s family, friends, and fellow teammates,” said Col. Nicholas Ploetz, brigade commander, 4th Combat Aviation Brigade, 4th Infantry Division. “Our hearts are with the family, friends, and Soldiers that Spc. Castro touched each day. We are committed to offering support during this profoundly challenging time.”

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