NASHVILLE, Tenn. – A fugitive who apparently fled to Tennessee to see his ailing mother was being sought Friday in Florida in the theft of a tour bus owned by country singer Crystal Gayle.
A man believed to be Christopher Daniel Gay was seen Thursday with the bus at a racetrack in Lakeland, Fla., telling the manager he was there to pick up NASCAR driver Tony Stewart, WTVF-TV of Nashville reported.
Police in Nashville said USA International Speedway officials became suspicious because the man's unkempt appearance didn't fit with the tour bus.
"He stated that he was leaving the racetrack to go to McDonald's to get a hamburger, and he has yet to be seen," Capt. Rich Foley said.
Speedway officials contacted police, who confirmed that the bus belonged to the country singer and had been stolen from a Nashville garage.
Gay, who has a history of theft involving trucks and other heavy equipment, has eluded capture since he escaped Sunday from a prisoner transport van during a bathroom break in Hardeeville, S.C., as he was being taken from Texas to face charges in Georgia.
He stole a pickup truck in South Carolina and made his way more than 300 miles northwest to Manchester, Tenn., where he stole a Wal-Mart tractor-trailer filled with merchandise, police said.
Police speculate that he was trying to get back Tennessee because his mother, who is dying of cancer, lives about 25 miles northwest of Nashville, near Pleasant View.
Police spotted Gay in the Wal-Mart truck Tuesday and gave chase. He drove the truck into a field about 50 yards from his mother's house and abandoned it, fleeing into the woods, police said.
He wasn't reported seen again until Thursday in Florida.
Gay was being transported from Georgetown, Texas, to Pell City, Ala., on escape and felony charges when he got away from the prisoner van, which was carrying 10 other prisoners to other locations in the Southeast.