Florida accident kills local men

Published 10:58 am Thursday, October 25, 2018

Editor’s Note: This story has been updated from earlier today to reflect the death of a third victim who was originally listed in critical condition.

CHIPLEY, FL – Two local men are among three killed in a fatal hit-and-run accident here Wednesday evening while they were part of a crew restoring electrical power in the wake of Hurricane Michael.

According to original TV news reports from that area, the Florida Highway Patrol identified the deceased as George Cecil, 52, of Colerain, NC and James Ussery, 60, of Chipley, FL. A third worker, 22-year-old Ryan Barrett of Roanoke Rapids, NC, was critically injured. He was transported to Southeastern Medical Center in Dothan, Alabama where he later died.

Cecil and Barrett were employed by Lee Electrical Construction, Inc., a North Carolina based company subcontracted to help with restoration efforts in the Florida Panhandle following the hurricane. Ussery was employed by West Florida Electric Co-Op.

In a press release, the Florida Highway Patrol said the three utility workers were standing in a ditch alongside State Route 77 shortly before 6:45 p.m. where they were attempting to restore electrical power.

Meanwhile, 37-year-old John Goedtke of Tampa, FL was traveling northbound on Route 77, operating a Ford truck that was towing a U-Haul trailer. Goedtke’s vehicle left the roadway and struck the three utility workers.

Goedtke fled the scene on foot and was later captured by the Washington County (Florida) Sheriff’s Office. As of Thursday morning, Goedtke stands charged with felony DUI manslaughter, felony vehicular homicide, and felony leaving the scene of an accident. Additional charges are pending.

Chipley is located just north of Mexico Beach and Panama City Beach, two areas that took the brunt of the impact when Hurricane Michael made landfall on Oct. 10 packing winds of 155 mph.


About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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