Troopers arrested a Florida man Thursday who has been on the run since 2011 when investigators say he was driving a pickup truck that struck an SUV on I-75 in Broward County, causing the other driver to veer off the interstate and into a canal where the SUV's only passenger was unable to swim and drowned.
According to law enforcement, Bartley Joseph Jude Gorman, 27, hid in the grass and brush of the median near the crash scene. Using thermal imaging, a helicopter from the Broward County Sheriff's Office found him. He was then taken to the hospital, where his blood was drawn and sent to the lab to figure out his blood-alcohol content and to process his DNA.
It can take weeks or months before those results come back, according to Florida Highway Patrol Sgt. Steve Gaskins. While authorities waited for the results of the blood sample, Gorman was allowed to leave the hospital. In theory, Gaskins explained, law enforcement could have charged him with leaving the scene of the crash. But, doing so, may have made it more difficult to add other charges later.
“If we had charged him that night, we would not have the benefit of all the evidence to have a thorough case that can ensure prosecution,” Sgt. Gaskins said.
When the toxicology results finally came back, investigators say they showed Gorman's blood-alcohol level was 0.18. At that point, warrants were issued for DUI manslaughter, leaving the scene of a crash, vehicular homicide and DUI property damage. But, by then, authorities say Gorman had already left South Florida. Gorman then moved around and proceeded to use fake driver's licenses to avoid arrest on those warrants, Gaskins said.
"Through investigative techniques, Gorman was known to have at least traveled to Ohio and Texas over the past several years and used fraudulent ID to help mask his identity," Sgt. Gaskins wrote in an email.
However, after "extensive" surveillance work in Polk County, troopers found and arrested him at the Hammock Lake RV Park in Fort Meade at 11 a.m. Thursday.
Gorman was taken to the Polk County Jail and charged with DUI manslaughter, vehicular homicide, DUI property damage, leaving the scene of a crash involving death and possession of fraudulent identification.
Troopers also arrested a 27-year-old woman who they say helped hide him. Catherine Ann Gallagher was charged with harboring a fugitive.
The passenger who drowned in the canal after the crash was Yvon Pierre, 56, of Lauderhill, Florida, according to a police report. The driver survived.