A retired Millard West teacher was life flighted to the hospital where he later died Thursday, following a collision with a car while he was on his bicycle.
It happened near 260th and West Center Road around 12:15 p.m. Douglas County Sheriff's Department deputies said 56-year-old Jim Johnston was heading westbound when he and the car collided head-on. It's not yet clear who crossed the center line.
Johnston was not wearing identification and the Sheriff's Department had asked the media for help in identifying him. The name of the driver has not yet been released.
Johnston had worked as a teacher in the Millard School District for 32 years, first at Millard North and then Millard West. A district spokesperson told WOWT 6 News Johnston retired last year, but still worked at Millard West as a physical therapist/athletic trainer with Alegent Creighton Health.
Millard West senior Hannah Brown said, “You always knew that if there was something wrong he was the right guy to go to.”
Hannah and Taylor Janzen spent hours with Jim Johnston every day, learning the basics of athletic training.
Janzen said, "Everyone I talked to liked him. He was one of the favorites, definitely."
The Millard West Athletic Trainer spent 30 years as a science teacher in Millard Schools, and retired just last spring but principal Greg Tiemann said he inspired so many students about science, that he still hears from alumni.
“I asked them which class prepared you the best for going into the medical field and almost every single one of them had mentioned Mr. Johnston's Human Physiology Course," Tiemann said.
Millard West staff and student athletes were stunned when the principal told them Johnston died while doing what he loved most: riding his bike.
Principal Tiemann said, “You could just see when I gave the information to our staff this afternoon it was a very quiet room.”
The principal said that Johnston worked with every team at the school, even traveling to games with them and helping at every practice. He said he was so dedicated that he was usually the last guy in the building.
Hannah Brown told us, "I loved him. He always made my day and he was my inspiration and next year, as I'm going to college to study athletic training, I will know that I'm doing it for him."
Johnston is survived by his wife, Patty, and two children.