Three linemen who were working to restore power in the Panhandle after Hurricane Michael were mowed down last night by a hit-and-run driver from Thonotosassa, deputies say. One of the lineman died at the scene. Two others were rushed to the hospital where they died from their injuries.
Deputies say 37 year-old John Goedtke was driving a truck that was towing a U-Haul trailer and hit the three linemen on State Road 77 in Washington County. The crash happened just before 7 p.m. Two linemen died and a third was airlifted to a local hospital in critical condition. The third lineman, 22-year-old Ryan Barrett from Roanoke Rapids, North Carolina, died from his injuries on Thursday, according to troopers.
The other lineman killed were identified as George Cesil, 52, of Cole Rain, North Carolina and James Ussery, 60, of Chipley, Florida.
Deputies say Goedtke ran away from the crash scene, but was spotted by a Chipley police officer and taken into custody.
Goedtke was charged with felony DUI manslaughter, felony vehicular homicide and felony leaving the scene. Additional charges are pending.
Goedtke has been arrested in Hillsborough County 27 times since he was 19 years-old, according to jail records.
“The police would wait for him. They knew he didn’t have a license and they would pull him over,” said Goedtke’s former neighbor Donna Spicer.
“There was constant screaming, I mean he would have stolen cars that he would just drop in the empty area over here. It was just constant. Drug use. I would do everything I could just to stay away from him.”
In the past he’s been in trouble for drugs, battery, driving with a suspended or revoked license, grand theft, grand theft of motor vehicle, fraudulent use of a credit card, burglary, felony fleeing to elude, reckless driving, and resisting an officer with violence.