Beloved community activist killed by alleged drunk driver - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Beloved community activist killed by alleged drunk driver

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SAN DIEGO (CBS 8) - A beloved Mission Beach community activist has died from her injuries Saturday after she was hit by a suspected DUI driver in a possible road rage crash.

Maruta Gardner was by all accounts the heart and soul of Mission Beach.

"She is, in our community, she is absolutely a superstar. There is no job too big or too small. She has her fingerprints all over this community," friend, Michiel Kuhlken said.

On Friday, Gardner was struck about 5:45 p.m. at the entrance to the jetty at 800 San Diego Place, suffered a skull fracture and was hospitalized with life-threatening injuries, according to San Diego Police Department Officer Robert Heims.

This past November 3 the San Diego City Council dedicated the day in her honor for her decades of volunteer service.

"She had a lot of us. If we were on walks and we saw graffiti, we would take a picture with our phone--we'd send it to Maruta and the next day, she is out painting over it," friend, Stevie Wheeler said.

Neighbors say in recent months, the incidence of drunkenness in the area among drivers and pedestrians has spiked, often with dangerous and even deadly consequences.

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, Heims said.

"The suspect sped to the right of the Mustang, driving along the shoulder and struck the victim," Heims said.

The suspect drove from the scene but was stopped nearby by officers, the officer said.

The man was evaluated and arrested on suspicion of DUI, Heims said.

The Mustang driver has not been identified.

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