HUDSON — Closing time. End of the day. Gary DeGaetano was shutting the front gate of his autobody shop Wednesday afternoon when the man appeared. The word "Karma" was inked just below the man's Adam's apple. He said he'd been walking all day and needed a ride.
DeGaetano's wife, Tracy, had taken another car to visit him at the shop.
She watched as the other man, who deputies later identified as 29-year-old William Robert Boyd, climbed into the passenger's side of DeGaetano's pickup truck.
They pulled out onto U.S. 19, headed north for Spring Hill. Tracy DeGaetano followed.
She watched them stop for gas near Walmart in Hudson and head north again.
Then, at Denton Avenue, the truck hung a U-turn and pulled into a Circle K parking lot. Tracy's phone rang. It was Gary.
"The guy has got a gun to me," he told her. "He wants the money."
At Boyd's demand, she said in an interview, Gary sent her into the convenience store to pull money from the ATM. Thinking quick, she dialed 911 inside the store.
When she wasn't coming out with the cash, a Pasco sheriff's report states, Boyd panicked. He told Gary to drive.
Through the store's window, Tracy watched the truck disappear. She thought she'd never see her husband again.
The man forced Gary down the labyrinth of roads west of U.S. 19. He must have made a wrong turn somewhere because they popped out back onto U.S. 19, where authorities were waiting.
Boyd forced Gary out of the truck, then jumped in the driver's seat and peeled out, the reports state. Boyd zoomed up U.S. 19, turned right on State Road 52 and gunned the truck past 80 miles per hour.
He hit spikes deputies had laid near the intersection with Moon Lake Road. The tires flattened. The truck rolled.
Deputies cuffed Boyd at the wreck scene. They found him with an airsoft plastic pellet gun.
He was booked into the Land O'Lakes jail on charges of robbery with a weapon, kidnapping, possession of methamphetamine, fleeing to elude, driving with a suspended license and reckless driving with property damage.
Deputies added another charge of attempted carjacking with a deadly weapon in relation to an incident earlier in the day. A report states Boyd pushed the gun barrel to another man's torso in Hudson and demanded he give over a motorcycle, then ran away.
He remained in jail Thursday in lieu of $370,150 bail.
Tracy waited what felt like a lifetime at the gas station. A patrol car pulled up and a deputy told her Gary was fine. The deputy would take her to him.
She arrived at the stretch of U.S. 19 and saw her husband in the back of another patrol car, giving his account to a deputy. She climbed in the back seat and hugged and kissed him.
She spoke about it Thursday in a light-hearted voice.
"I'm just grateful that no one was hurt," she said. "Cars can be replaced."
Contact Alex Orlando at email@example.com or (727) 869-6247.