Vaughan Foods Survivor Speaks Out

Wednesday, December 10th 2014, 8:06 pm
By: News 9

Oklahomans won't soon forget the scene at Vaughan Foods this past September, when an employee was beheaded by an angry co-worker.

Someone else who will never forget that scene is Traci Johnson, another Vaughan Foods worker who was nearly killed, as well.

As it is, Johnson was forever scarred, physically and mentally, and that's made her reluctant to talk to any media -- until now.

Johnson agreed to speak with News 9 about an ordeal that has left her with conflicted emotions. She is grateful for having survived a vicious attack, but also feels guilt for having survived when another didn't.

Johnson acknowledges she didn't know Colleen Hufford, the woman who was beheaded, as Johnson had only just started working at the Moore business.

September 25, 2014 was, in fact, her fourth day on the job.

A 911 call placed by someone at the business that afternoon described a terrible situation, with a brutal attack going on inside. Johnson doesn't remember it all, but she does remember having to fight for her life.

"My adrenaline was sky high," Johnson explained.

She faced her alleged attacker, Alton Nolen, after he had finished with Hufford. She says she held her body motionless, while her mind ran through possible scenarios.

"'Don't run, Traci,'" she recalled thinking. "'Just stand there,' and that's what I did...I fought him. I fought him."

Johnson's recollection of what happened during the struggle, she says, is a bit of a blur.

"I couldn't hear anything, I couldn't see anybody," Johnson said.

She says Nolen cut her face first, and then began slashing her throat. Still, she kept fighting.

She says she knew that she was going to be okay after hearing the first gun shot, "and when I heard Mark start yelling to tell him to get off of me."

Mark Vaughan, a reserve sheriff's deputy, stopped Nolen with gunfire. Traci Johnson calls him a hero.

"If it wasn't for him," Johnson said, "I wouldn't be here -- it was [Mark] that saved my life."

Johnson says she's grateful, but admits that she struggles with grief, knowing that her co-worker was not as fortunate.

"I have extremely hard days, where sometimes I want to give up," Johnson said, "but Colleen won't let me. They say I have a thing called survivor's guilt and that's because of what has happened, and I feel like a lot of this is my fault."

Johnson grieves daily for Hufford, but says she is also the motivation for her pursuit of justice.

"I'm going to fight," Johnson stated, "I'm not going to give up -- Colleen wouldn't want me to."

Traci Johnsons says the scar from her attack is a reminder of her will to survive, and she knows she has a long road ahead of her with Nolen's trial next year.

Alton Nolen is being held in the Cleveland County Jail. His preliminary hearing is set for April.