Community activist killed in road rage crash

Posted at 7:32 PM, Feb 12, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-15 08:24:10-05
SAN DIEGO -- A 69-year-old woman who was standing near a Mission Beach curb when a driver hit her and took off died Saturday, according to a friend and fellow club member.
Nancie Geller, President of the Mission Beach Women's Club, told 10News that Maruta Gardner had passed away in the hospital. The club posted the following message on their Facebook page.
"It is with great sorrow that our beloved Maruta Gardner has died. All of the members of the Mission Beach Women's Club loved Maruta as a sister, admired her strength, her leadership and valued her loyal friendship. Our hearts go out to Willie, Maruta's husband, during this time. RIP, dear Maruta. You will be missed."
Gardner is known around Mission Beach as the 'graffiti eradicator.' She has spent years painting over graffiti in the community trying to make it better. The city council recently declared Nov. 3 as 'Maruta Gardner Day' to honor her years of service. 10News is working on additional confirmation of her death. 
Meanwhile the driver, who police suspect was under the influence of alcohol or drugs when he became involved in a road rage incident, was arrested late Friday after being stopped nearby by officers. He has not yet been identified.
Gardner was struck around 5:45 p.m. at the entrance to the jetty at 800 San Diego Place. She suffered a skull fracture, according to San Diego Police Department Officer Robert Heims.
The 23-year-old suspect was driving a black Toyota Corolla when he and the driver of a white Ford Mustang became involved in a case of road rage, police said.
"The suspect sped to the right of the Mustang, driving along the shoulder and struck the victim,'' Heims said.