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article imageEscaped prisoner allegedly steals Crystal Gayle's bus to see his mom

By Carolyn E. Price     Jan 28, 2007 in Crime
This story has all the makings of a real country song, an escaped prisoner, his terminally ill mother, a Wal-Mart truck, NASCAR and a Nashville singer's tour bus.
Christopher Daniel Gay, 32, escaped from a prisoner transport van Sunday in South Carolina. He has managed to evade a five-state manhunt by stealing a pickup truck, a big rig and finally, a bus that belongs to country singer Crystal Gayle.
No one has been injured in this man's car theft crime wave, and the search for him continues.
Police believe his motive for the escape was simple. "I take it he was just trying to see his mom," said Michael Douglas, Police Chief in Pleasant View, Tennessee. Pleasant View is near the home where Mr. Gay's mother is dying of cancer.
Mr. Gay, who history includes theft of trucks and other heavy equipment, escaped during a bathroom break in Hardeeville, SC. He was being transported from Georgetown, Texas to Alabama to face felony theft charges. The van he was driving in was following a route to pick up other prisoners in other states.
Mr. Gay stole a pickup truck in South Carolina and made his way northwest to Manchester, Tenn., over 300 miles away. He then stole a Wal-Mart tractor-trailer filled with $300,000 worth of goods inside. He then made his was toward Nashville and on Tuesday, got to within 50 yards of his mother's house, about 25 miles northwest of Nashville. For some reason, he abandoned the Wal-Mart truck and fled into some woods.
"What he done was wrong, but he knows his mama don't have long," his mother, Anna Shull, told The Tennessean this week. Authorities don't know whether Mr. Gay got to see his mother or not.
Since then, authorities believe that he stole the bus belonging to Ms. Gayle -- the younger sister of Loretta Lynn. Ms Gayle is known for her long black hair, has had hits such as "Don't It Make My Brown Eyes Blue."
A man , believed to be Mr. Gay, arrived at USA International Speedway in Lakeland, Fla., telling the track's manager he was there with NASCAR racer Tony Stewart. He asked for help to get a new generator for the tour bus he was driving. The Speedfest 2007 event is being held there this week, but Stewart was not schedul to appear at the event.
"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 left.
Track officials, suspicious of the man's story, gave authorities the license plate number of the tour bus Ms Gayle didn't know her bus was missing until speedway officials called on Thursday.
Her husband and manager, Bill Gatzimos, told WSMV-TV, "There's got to be a country song in having your bus stolen and taken for a joyride by a fugitive."
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