A man who killed three linemen, including one from Roanoke Rapids, was sentenced to four life sentences Monday in a Florida court, according to news accounts on the matter.
The Dothan Eagle in Alabama reported Monday John Roland Goedetke entered a plea to DUI manslaughter, leaving the scene of a death and driving while license suspended in an October 25, 2018, crash that caused the deaths of Ryan Barrett, 22, of Roanoke Rapids; George Cesil, 52, of Bertie County; and James Ussery, 61, who was from Florida. The three were working to restore power in Washington County, Florida, after Hurricane Michael.
Jodie Barrett, Ryan’s mother, said in a statement today, “We will always mourn Ryan’s loss but we find some solace in knowing that this repeat offender will not be able to tragically harm another family in the way he has ours.”
Mrs. Barrett said, “We are grateful for the hard work of all the law enforcement officials and court officials in their investigation of this case. Their hard work ensured justice was served in this matter.”
The statement continued, “We are sincerely thankful for the community of Chipley (Florida) that first embraced our son during his time working to restore power and then our family as we have grieved his loss. The people of Chipley remind us of our own community that always comes together to love and support those in need. We traveled here knowing the thoughts and prayers of Roanoke Rapids went ahead of us and are still with us. Yesterday’s trial outcome helps us to move forward unencumbered in honoring and remembering not only our son, Ryan, but also George Cesil and James Ussery.”
The Eagle quoted Washington County Sheriff Kevin Crews as saying he hopes the outcome of Goedetke’s sentencing hearing brings closure to the linemen’s families and the Washington County community.
According to the Florida Highway Patrol, Goedetke was driving north on State Road 77 near the intersection of Talton Road when his vehicle traveled onto the shoulder, striking the linemen. He fled the scene on foot and was later apprehended with the assistance of the Chipley Police Department.
Barrett worked for Lee Electrical Construction, which is based in Aberdeen alongside foreman Cesil, who lived in Colerain. Ussery worked for West Florida Electrical.
Cesil had worked with the company for approximately six years “serving as an exceptional foreman for most of that time,” Lee Electrical said on its Facebook page following the crash.
Barrett had worked with the company for five months “but was quickly showing promise in our industry,” the company said.