Metro-East News

Mother of 2 killed in Highland crash 'put a face on selfless service to others'

The friends and family of a Highland woman killed in a car crash on Friday are mourning her loss.

Charlene Johnson, 45, died Friday as she was on her way to work, friends said.

Johnson was headed west at about 4 a.m. Friday on U.S. 40 near Kennedy Lane in Highland when a truck driven by Wayne Stayton, 36, of Collinsville, crossed the center line and collided head on with Johnson’s truck.

Stayton, who told police he was speeding, sustained a broken leg.

Friends remembered Johnson, a mother of two, as a hard worker with a big heart.

"The first time I ever met Charlene was a few days before throwing an event for Siteman Cancer Center. She walked in the door and said, 'I realize that you don't know me, but I have lost too many people to cancer. I'm a hard worker, and I just want to help," Johnson's friend Kelly Tracy said. "That is the perfect description of Charlene — a hard worker who just wanted to help."

Johnson worked as a laborer, but she also volunteered for the Alhambra Jaycees.

"I met Charlene when I joined Laborer’s Union 474 in Glen Carbon in 1999. She was always quick with a smile, encouragement and a work ethic that was a big asset to any contractor she worked for," Gail Ensor, a friend and former coworker, said. "Charlene was the best mother, friend and would always brighten a room with her smile. She put a face on selfless service to others."