SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — "He loved what he did ... and he loved his family," Peter Johnson said from his living room in Mesa.
Johnson has just returned from buying a new suit, but not for himself. It's for his son-in-law, Officer Clayton Townsend, to wear at Townsend's funeral.
"The sadness of losing an awesome human being," Johnson said. "An outstanding human being."
Townsend, he said, was one of the strongest people Johnson had known. Townsend wanted to be a police officer; he struggled through the academy and the tests. But his competitiveness drove him, Johnson said, and he graduated and became an officer with the Salt River Police Department.
Then, another setback. Townsend was diagnosed with testicular cancer. He went through treatment while still on the job. He beat the disease, but doctors were certain he would never have children.
Then Townsend's son, now 10 months old, came along.
That's what hurts Johnson the most, he said.
"Watching my daughter suffer because she's lost her husband," he said, "knowing that my grandson isn't going to get to know his dad. Because somebody couldn't wait."
That somebody, police said, is Jerry Sanstead, 40, of Scottsdale. Sanstead is accused of hitting Townsend with his car on the Loop 101 near McDowell Road, killing him. Police said Sanstead admitted he was texting and driving. Witnesses said he swerved through two lanes of traffic before hitting Townsend.
Sanstead was released on a $100,000 bond Wednesday night. Johnson said he can't believe Sanstead got out.
"I've already had too much tragedy in my own family," Johnson said. "This has got to stop."
A few years ago, Johnson's brother-in-law was hit by another driver who was texting. He was unconscious for five weeks and Johnson said doctors didn't think his brother-in-law would pull out of it. He eventually recovered.
The first incident made Johnson critical of texting and driving. Watching his daughter lose her husband has made him determined to do something about it.
He plans to work to pass a texting while driving law, Arizona's first.
But for now, Johnson said the family is living day to day, if not minute by minute—and grieving the man they all loved.
"I'm very proud of who he was," Johnson said. "I'm very proud of the mark he made on this earth."