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Brake failure leads to blind man’s death, friend says

Mon., April 11, 2011, 6:33 p.m.

A Spokane man was killed early Sunday when a commercial-style bus malfunctioned and ran him over, police said.

Justin C. Gardner, 39, died of skull trauma near Third Avenue and Maple Street about 12:10 a.m., the Spokane County Medical Examiner’s Office said Monday. A family friend said it appears the brakes gave out while Gardner was checking on something under the bus.

Details surrounding the tragedy remained sketchy Monday.

Police are investigating, but Gardner’s death appears to be an accident, said Officer Jennifer DeRuwe, spokeswoman for the Spokane Police Department.

Gardner, who was blind, lived with his 6-year-old son, said Jami Wolf, a longtime friend.

“He was a great dad,” Wolf said.

Gardner’s father owned the bus, which was described as a former Spokane Transit Authority bus, and reportedly had driven it to the location of the accident to pick up his son. It’s unclear how the accident happened, though.

Wolf said Gardner enjoyed working on cars and was “very mechanical.”

She said Gardner was very independent despite his lack of eyesight.

“He got around just fine,” she said. “He was very determined to get where he was going to go and do what he needed to do.”

A memorial service is scheduled for Thursday from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. at the Quality Inn, 110 E. 4th Ave., Wolf said.

Update: Gardner’s father said Gardner was killed as he was approaching the bus and the bus’ brakes gave out.

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