New details in Fresno fatal wheelchair hit and run

FRESNO, Calif.

The crash happened around eight o'clock on Blackstone Avenue, between Sierra and Herndon in North Fresno. Investigators say Gardner was not using a crosswalk.

After talking with witnesses, police now have a general description of the two vehicles involved. Aside from worrying about finding those drivers, they're also looking into how safe the area is, because if you look on both sides of the street, you'll notice more than a dozen of the city's streetlights aren't working.

Investigators say Darin Gardner had been drinking before he tried crossing the southbound lanes of Blackstone near Sierra in his wheelchair. According to witnesses, one car struck Gardner, sending him several feet into the air. That's when a second car hit him, while he was in the middle of the road.

Chris Ramirez said, "I took a look outside and I saw the fire truck out there, I actually saw the body on the ground."

Chris Ramirez works at the nearby Salvation Army. He says jaywalking happens all the time in the area. But, it's becoming even more dangerous, because of the poor lighting.

"I work in the trailers right? Most people don't even know I'm there. Most people can't even see me, so I get people who come out here and say, man I didn't even know you were out here, it's so dark."

Monday night, we counted 13 out of the 25 streetlights between Sierra and Herndon was not working. Fresno's Director of Public Works, Patrick Wiemiller says while they are aware of the problem -- the lights had little to do with Saturday's crash.

Patrick Wiemiller said, "This wouldn't be the first pedestrian death we've had on Blackstone. Those others have occurred on daylight, so it's not a matter of streetlights, it's a matter of unsafe activity crossing where pedestrians should not cross."

Police agree. They blame the victim for not using the crosswalk, as well as the two drivers who hit him and took off.

Sgt. Dave Gibeault said, "You know, rules are in place for vehicles to drive appropriately and using the lights from their vehicles to see objects in the roadways."

Investigators say Saturday's fatal crash should serve as a reminder, to always use the crosswalk. During a city-wide operation last Wednesday, Fresno police wrote 126 citations for jaywalking.

Meanwhile, a city technician will visit the area early Tuesday morning to assess the broken lights. As for the two drivers involved in the crash, detectives are looking for a black compact car, as well as a white SUV -- possibly a Tahoe or Trailblazer.

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