‘This is my worst nightmare’: Phoenix woman mourning fiancé killed in semi-truck crash

Nikki Johnson says she lost her partner, Ryan Gooding, who was among those killed in a semi-truck crash on I-10 near Chandler Boulevard.
Published: Jan. 13, 2023 at 7:22 PM MST|Updated: Jan. 13, 2023 at 9:27 PM MST
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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -- A Phoenix family is confirming they lost a loved one in a violent crash on Interstate 10 in Chandler on Thursday morning. Nikki Johnson says she lost her partner, Ryan Gooding, who was among those killed in a semi-truck crash just after 6 a.m. on I-10 near Chandler Boulevard.

Johnson says she’ll never forget that morning. “This is my worst nightmare,” she said. “I got a text from his front desk administrative assistant and they said Ryan didn’t come in today and that was at 11.” When Johnson’s calls and texts to Gooding went unanswered, she grew desperate. “The first thing I did, I’m a techy, is I Googled and saw the crash, and I don’t know. It’s just so unlike him to never not text,” she explained.

The Arizona Department of Public Safety says a distracted semi-truck driver hauling garbage didn’t slow down and barreled into two cars, killing five people, including Gooding. “It doesn’t feel real, I think that I’m still in shock,” said Johnson.

Johnson and Gooding were set to get married in June, looking forward to their bright future. The two also have a 9-year-old boy named Apollo. “I proposed to him in December, and he was so excited. He never took the engagement ring off; he wore it to bed. He just never took it off,” she said.

She says the last few hours have been excruciating. “I’m fluctuating between crying and making dumb jokes, because me and Ryan like to make lots of jokes and crying some more, staying strong for Apollo and talking about heaven and where we go,” she said.

However, Johnson says if there’s one message she hopes to get across, it’s to never take your loved ones for granted. “Hug your families tonight. That’s the one request we have; it’s just hug them as tight as you can because you just don’t know,” she said.

The family has set up a GoFundMe to help the family with funeral expenses. If you would like to donate, click/tap here.