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View Full Version : Escapee pursued through country-song odyssey



S0Noma
01-27-2007, 10:15 AM
NASHVILLE, Tennessee (AP) -- It has all the makings of a country song: an escaped prisoner, his terminally ill mother, a Wal-Mart truck, NASCAR and a Nashville singer's tour bus.

Since Christopher Daniel Gay, 32, escaped from a prisoner transport van Sunday in South Carolina, police say, he has evaded a five-state manhunt by stealing a pickup, a big rig and a bus that belongs to singer Crystal Gayle.

No one has been reported injured, and the search for him continued Friday.

Initially, police say, his motive for fleeing was simple. "I take it he was just trying to see his mom," said Michael Douglas, the police chief in Pleasant View, Tennessee, near the home where Gay's mother is dying of cancer.

Gay, who has a history of theft involving trucks and other heavy equipment, escaped during a bathroom break in Hardeeville, South Carolina, as he was being taken from Texas to face felony theft charges in Alabama. The van was taking a route allowing it to pick up prisoners in other states.

He stole a pickup truck in South Carolina and made his way more than 300 miles northwest to Manchester, Tennessee, where he stole a Wal-Mart tractor-trailer filled with $300,000 worth of merchandise, police said.

On Tuesday, Gay got to within 50 yards of his mother's house, about 25 miles northwest of Nashville, but abandoned the Wal-Mart truck and fled into some woods, authorities said.

"What he done was wrong, but he knows his mama don't have long," his mother, Anna Shull, told The Tennessean this week. Efforts to contact Gay's family were unsuccessful Friday.

Authorities don't think Gay got to see his mother.

Since then, authorities believe he stole the bus belonging to Gayle -- the younger sister of Loretta Lynn, known for her long hair and hits such as "Don't It Make My Brown Eyes Blue."

A man believed to be Gay arrived Thursday night at USA International Speedway in Lakeland, Florida, telling the track's manager he was there with NASCAR racer Tony Stewart and asking him for help getting a new generator for the tour bus he was driving, officials said.

The Speedfest 2007 event is being held there this week, but there are no plans for Stewart to appear.

"His story just started having a lot of inconsistencies, so we asked him for some identification," said speedway President Bill Martino in a phone interview Friday. The man, who Martino said was clean-cut and dressed nicely, refused and fled.

Track officials, suspicious of the man's story, provided authorities with the license plate number of the tour bus.

Gayle didn't know the bus was missing from the Nashville garage where it was parked until speedway officials called Thursday night, police said.

Her husband and manager, Bill Gatzimos, couldn't immediately be reached for comment Friday, but he told WSMV-TV, "There's got to be a country song in having your bus stolen and taken for a joyride by a fugitive."


web page (http://www.cnn.com/2007/US/01/26/escapee.mom.ap/index.html)