Man arrested after crash kills 2 men repairing power lines downed by hurricane

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WASHINGTON COUNTY, Fla. (NEXSTAR) – 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 Tampa, deputies say. Two of the linemen died from their injuries.

According to the Florida Highway Patrol, 37-year-old John Goedtke, of Tampa, was traveling northbound on State 77 towing a U-Haul trailer. Goedtke’s vehicle left the roadway and struck three utility workers attempting to restore power in the area.

Killed in the crash were Chipley, Florida, resident James Ussery, 60, along with George Cecil, 52, of Colerain. A third lineman, Ryan Barrett, 22, of Roanoke Rapids, was taken to Southeast Medical Center by helicopter in critical condition.

Ussery is employed by West Florida Electric Cooperative. Barrett and Cecil are employees of Lee Electric Construction Inc.

Deputies say Goedtke ran away from the crash scene after his truck ended up in a ditch, but was spotted and detained by a Washington County Sheriff’s Office deputy.

Goedtke has been arrested in Hillsborough County 27 times since he was 19 years-old, according to jail records.

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.

Goedtke is facing charges of felony DUI manslaughter, felony vehicular homicide, felony leaving the scene and additional charges are pending, authorities said.

The Florida Highway Patrol is investigating. 

WFLA, WMBB, and WNCN contributed to this report. 

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