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New charges filed in hit-and-run that killed Bertie Co. man, 2 others

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BONIFAY, Fla. (CBS 17) — The Florida man accused of killing three linemen — one of whom was from Bertie County, North Carolina — in a hit-and-run in October is now facing new charges.

The three linemen were working to restore power in the Panhandle after Hurricane Michael when they were hit and killed on Oct. 24.

According to the Florida Highway Patrol, 37-year-old John Goedtke, of Tampa, Florida,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 Cesil, 52, of Colerain, North Carolina.

A third lineman, 22-year-old Ryan Barrett, of Roanoke Rapids, was taken to Southeast Medical Center by helicopter in critical condition.

Barrett died from his injuries the next day, the family confirmed to CBS 17.

Ussery was employed by West Florida Electric Cooperative. Barrett and Cesil were 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 was previously charged with felony DUI manslaughter, felony vehicular homicide, felony leaving the scene in connection with the triple fatal crash, authorities said.

On Wednesday, prosecutor Larry Basford filed new charges against Goedtke.

Goedtke is now charged with three counts of vehicular homicide, leaving the scene of a crash involving death, and driving while license canceled, suspended or revoked causing serious bodily injury or death.

Barrett’s family spoke with WAVY sister WNCN CBS 17 in an exclusive interview on Nov. 7 and talked about the outpouring of support they’ve received, as well as their feelings about Goedtke.

His parents said they’ve been overwhelmed and humbled by the support and love they’ve received. It’s come from the hospital that worked to save their son’s life, the community where the crash took place, and the brotherhood of linemen.

“We don’t feel like we’ve had to walk through it alone, and that is comforting,” mother Jodie Barrett said.

“They’ve put a small memorial where the accident happened. And, from our understanding, I think the power company they were working for is going to put up a permanent memorial there where the accident happened to remember all three who gave their life just trying to help,” father Thomas Barrett said.

Ryan’s parents didn’t have any harsh words for Goedtke. Instead, they’re focusing on Ryan — who he was and all he accomplished.

“Everybody we’ve talked to has said something about his smile. Just how it lit up a room and how contagious it was, so that’s what I just keep repeating to myself. What I want people to remember about Ryan is that he carried himself with a smile. He looked for opportunities to help others where he could,” Jodie said.

Goedtke is being held in Washington County jail without bond.

— WMBB and WFLA contributed to this report

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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