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FHP: Thonotosassa man faces DUI manslaughter charges in deaths of three Hurricane Michael linemen
FHP: Thonotosassa man faces DUI manslaughter charges in deaths of three Hurricane Michael linemen[John Roland Goedtke, 37, of Tampa, was arrested on Oct. 24, 2018, after he was accused in the hit-and-run deaths of two lineman who were working to restore power lost to Hurricane Michael in Washington County. [Washington County Sheriff's Office]]
John Roland Goedtke, 37, of Tampa, was arrested on Oct. 24, 2018, after he was accused in the hit-and-run deaths of two lineman who were working to restore power lost to Hurricane Michael in Washington County. [Washington County Sheriff's Office]
Carl LisciandrelloTimes staff writer
Daniel Figueroa IVTimes staff writer
Published: October 25, 2018
Updated: October 25, 2018 at 07:45 PM
A 37-year-old Thonotosassa man was driving while impaired and without a valid license on Wednesday, according to the Florida Highway Patrol, when he plowed into three lineman working to restore power after Hurricane Michael.
All three lineman were killed, troopers said.
John Roland Goedtke kept driving, the Highway Patrol said. Now he faces multiple charges from the incident including vehicular homicide and DUI manslaughter.
Hillsborough County Jail records show Goedtke has a lengthy arrest record since 2000 on charges that include drug possession, domestic battery and driving with a revoked license.
His driving record shows a history of unpaid fines, license suspensions and then trouble for driving anyway. A December 2000 arrest included a charge of driving with a license that was permanently revoked.
Highway Patrol Lt. Eddie Elmore confirmed to the Tampa Bay Times that Goedtke did not have a valid license at the time of the crash.
Goedtke was driving a 1997 Ford F-150 and towing a U-Haul trailer at the time, troopers said. He was headed north on State Road 77, south of Interstate 10 between Chipley and Wausau in one of Florida’s most storm-battered areas, according to the Highway Patrol.
About 6:50 p.m., troopers said, Goedtke hopped onto the east shoulder of S.R. 77.
Just off Talton Drive, George Cecil, a 52-year-old lineman from Cole Rain, N.C., and James Ussery, a 60-year-old lineman from Chipley, were working to restore power with lineman Ryan Barrett, 22, of Roanoke Rapids, N.C.
Cecil and Barrett were Lee Electric employees visiting the state to help with relief following the devastation of Hurricane Michael. Ussery was an employee of West Florida Electric.
As Goedtke crossed Talton Drive, still driving on the highway’s shoulder, troopers said he struck the three lineman. He did not stop to check on the men or help them, but instead kept driving on the shoulder until he wound up in a ditch.
All three linemen died of their injuries.
The Washington County Sheriff’s Office said Goedtke ran from the truck after he drove into the ditch, but was spotted by a Chipley police officer. He was detained by Washington deputies, then arrested by troopers and taken to the county jail.
Goedtke also has a history of fleeing arrest attempts. His Hillsborough arrest record includes four instances of fleeing to elude and one other charge of leaving the scene of an accident.
The Highway Patrol continues to investigate the crash.
Daniel Figueroa IV can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @danuscripts. Carl Lisciandrello can be reached at email@example.com. Follow @carlmarksTimes.