|Richard Matt - NY State Police|
For Brett and Dottie Gokey and five of their friends and family, "the worst" came on Friday, June 26. The group was divided between three pickups, pulling a boat and two fifth-wheels, heading to Meacham Lake Campground, in upstate Franklin County – a nice place to scare up northern pike and yellow perch. Meacham Lake is about 50 road miles southwest of the Clinton Correctional Facility – and it proved to be way too close.
Driving in caravan style, the Gokey group motored along Route 30 when they heard what Brett Gokey described as a "crack." Thinking he'd blown a tire, Gokey pulled over, investigated, and found nothing amiss. Shrugging it off, they continued on eight more miles to the campground. It was there the source of the "crack" noise was identified. A slug from a 20-gauge shotgun had blasted through one of the fifth wheels, cleanly making the trip straight into and out the other side. Fortunately, no one in the party got in the way.
The Gokeys turned around and headed back from where they'd come until they ran into a law enforcement team at the south end of the lake. Officials eyeballed the matter and determined the family rig had been shot, and advised the Gokeys to keep their mouths shut – out of a "safety" issue. They did – for a very long time – waiting for some official to say something publicly about just who had been shot at. Within hours, aided by the Gokeys' lead, border patrol officers tracked down escaped convict Richard Matt. When Matt pointed a 20 gauge shotgun at them, one of the officers dropped him with a gun of his own, fatally wounding him.
First speaking with the media, two months after the frightening encounter, the Gokeys are still haunted by it. Telling Boston's WCVB TV station about their recollections, "That could have been us,” Brett Gokey said. “We could have been killed, our families, everybody that was camping with us could have been killed. It wasn’t just a shot at an RV. It was our families."
Brett's wife, Dottie Gokey, feels the state should be held accountable – suspecting that Richard Matt was armed, Dottie feels the state should have closed the campground. And she feels slighted, "thrown away" that while the state's governor credited "campers" with the reporting that led to Matt's final capture, never has the Gokey family been mentioned by name.
The Gokeys have retained an attorney, asking for a portion of the reward that was offered in connection with the capture of Matt and David Sweat.
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