Hillsborough man gets life sentence for crash that killed linemen after hurricane

State / Regional

[Photo: Washington County Sheriff’s Office]

CHIPLEY, Fla. (AP) — A man who prosecutors say was high on drugs when his pickup truck fatally struck three utility workers in the Florida Panhandle as they were repairing power lines after Hurricane Michael was sentenced Monday to life in prison.

John Goedtke, 38, of Thonotosassa, had pleaded no contest last week to three counts of DUI manslaughter, one count of leaving the scene of a crash involving death and one count of driving without a license, court records indicate. He was sentenced by a judge in Florida’s Washington County.

Goedtke was pulling a trailer at high speed just before he crashed his pickup truck in October 2018 north of Panama City, according to investigators. They said Goedtke was driving near Chipley when his truck veered off a state road onto the shoulder and struck George Cecil, Ryan Barrett and James Ussery.

Goedtke ran from the scene but was later tracked down and captured, authorities said. Lab analysis of blood drawn shortly after the crash showed Goedtke had enough methamphetamine and amphetamine in his system to render him impaired, according to prosecutors.

Cecil, 52, and Barrett, 22, worked for North Carolina-based Lee Electrical Construction, and Ussery, 61, for the West Florida Electric Cooperative.

Hurricane Michael made landfall in the Florida Panhandle on Oct. 10, 2018. It was the first Category 5 storm to strike the contiguous United States since Hurricane Andrew in 1992.

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