Escaped Prisoner Steals Country Star's Tour Bus - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

01/26/07

Escaped Prisoner Steals Country Star's Tour Bus

A prison escapee has been on a cross-country crime spree that we've been following since he bolted from guards in South Carolina, stole a truck, then an 18-wheeler and now a luxury tour bus.

Christopher Gay was supposed to be in jail in Alabama by now. Instead, he's on the run, in a tour bus, making up new stories in every city he visits.

This all started in Texas, where Gay was picked up on a felony warrant. He was being transported back to Alabama to stand trial, when the prison transport driver stopped in Hardeeville, South Carolina, at a rest stop. That's where Gay escaped.

From there, Gay traveled to his home state of Tennessee. He went to Manchester, where police say he stole a Wal-Mart delivery truck.

He drove that truck to Coopertown, Tennessee, where his mother lives. She is very sick, and he apparently went to see her on her deathbed. That's where police caught up with him..

After a 15-mile chase through two counties, Gay ran out of luck when the truck got stuck in the muck in an open field. But Gay was able to escape, running into some nearby woods, and away from capture.

Coopertown police believe he's a dangerous man.

"He's had some drug history in the past, so there's any number of reasons between that and his criminal history that I believe he poses a threat to our community," said Chief Dave Barrera.

But he didn't stay in that community long. Investigators say Gay found a new ride, country singer Crystal Gayle's tour bus. He took that bus from Nashville, Tennessee, to Lakeland, Florida, and the USA International Speedway. Gay told people there that he worked with Joe Gibbs Racing and NASCAR driver Tony Stewart.

He was so convincing that the speedway gave the bus a new generator, and its own parking spot.

But just as quickly, people became suspicious about his story, called in the plate number, and found out the bus was stolen.

Gay told people at the Speedway he was headed to McDonald's for a hamburger, but never came back. Surveillance video did confirm it was Christopher Gay.

Investigators believe he's still in the tour bus, but say he could have switched trucks by now, and they don't know exactly where he could be headed.

Reported by: Andrew Davis, andrewdavis@wtoc.com

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