Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

How John Goodman's High Life Came Crashing Down


A police recreation of the crash
A police recreation of the crash

On the evening of February 11, 2010, Goodman eschewed his frequent chauffeur and drove himself to the White Horse Tavern in Wellington, which was hosting a charity event replete with celebrity bartenders (i.e., famous polo players). Goodman drank easily with friends — and witnesses would place a vodka tonic in his hand at White Horse by 8 p.m. Around 11 p.m., Goodman made his way to the Players Club, another popular stop for the polo crowd. People there saw him drink at least two shots of tequila along with another vodka tonic. Investigators would discover that Goodman had amassed a $272 bar tab from the Players Club by 12:37 am when he settled up. The receipt totaled 16 shots of whiskey and tequila — prosecutors would rely on this as evidence that Goodman drank more than he admitted. A young woman named Stacey Shore later told police that Goodman took her onto the dance floor at the Players Club and kissed her before asking her to leave with him to do cocaine. Shore said she declined the offer and Goodman soon left on his own.

Stacey Shore
Stacey Shore

Goodman drove away from the bar in his black Bentley GTC convertible (worth an estimated $200,000) and headed to Wendy's to indulge his sweet tooth with a Frosty. He approached a stop sign on 120th Avenue and Lake Worth but didn't stop — instead he careened through the intersection at 63 mph. The Bentley crashed into Scott Wilson's Hyundai, flipping the smaller car into a canal. Scott Wilson was rendered unconscious, strapped in by his seat belt as water filled the car. The 23-year-old Wilson ultimately drowned in the upside-down vehicle. Goodman wandered away from the scene in a daze — he would later be found to have suffered a broken wrist, fractured chest and back injuries. When college student Nicole Ocoro noticed the damaged Bentley and called 911 shortly after 1 a.m., there was no one around. Sadly, she did not see Wilson's car in the nearby canal.

Goodman waited roughly an hour to call 911 at 1:55 a.m. (after first calling his girlfriend Heather Colby). On that call, he told the operator that he thought he had hit something, but couldn't say for sure it was another car. He repeatedly asked the dispatcher if everybody was OK. When police caught up with Goodman, they noted his eyes were bloodshot and glassy, and his speech was slurred. Goodman refused to speak with police and initially declined a police blood test, relenting only when a deputy told him there was enough probable cause to draw blood forcibly. Finally, the blood sample was taken at 3:59 a.m. Three hours after the crash, authorities found Goodman's blood-alcohol level tested at .177 — more than twice the legal limit of .08.

However, police did not arrest Goodman at the scene. Rather they continued their investigation for months, interviewing Goodman's friends and collecting evidence. On May 18, 2010, prosecutors finally charged the polo magnate with vehicular homicide and DUI manslaughter. Goodman was arrested at a Four Seasons hotel in Miami and booked into Palm Beach County Jail. Goodman quickly posted the $100,000 bail, surrendered his passport, and remained free through trial on supervised release — subject to random drug and alcohol tests.

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