Rollover takes life of Glenwood resident, 55
Post Independent Staff
GLENWOOD SPRINGS – A Saturday afternoon rollover crash on Highway 82 claimed the life of Glenwood Springs resident Charles W. Gardner.
According to the Colorado State Patrol, “Chuck” Gardner, 55, veered out of control at 5:10 p.m. Saturday as he was headed toward Glenwood Springs on Highway 82 just south of Buffalo Valley.
His 1989 Dodge truck ran off the right side of the road and up an embankment, where it hit a large rock and rolled onto its left side.
“While they were there, a young girl came by and she held him in her arms,” Marion Gardner said. “She helped him out of the cab and held him in her arms.”
“I came around the corner and saw a truck rolled over on the side of the hill,” said Melody De Los Santos, 21, of Rifle. “I just pulled over and ran over there.
“He had climbed out of the back of the cab by himself. I asked him if he knew his name, if he was okay,” De Los Santos said.
“He started to look like he was going to fall down,” she said, so she helped him to the ground. Gardner was quiet, then he muttered things she couldn’t understand.
She waited until the ambulance arrived and helped to get him loaded, talked to an investigating officer about the accident, and then left the scene. She didn’t learn until Monday that Gardner died at the hospital.
Gardner said she also heard reports that her husband was alive when was in the ambulance on the way to the hospital, but soon after he arrived, he died.
“All his vital signs were fine and all of a sudden he was gone,” she said.
Chuck Gardner had one passenger, Lori Gonzales, 27, of Glenwood Springs, in the truck when the crash happened. She was uninjured in the crash, the CSP report said.
De Los Santos said she and another motorist who stopped to help never saw Gonzales, although they looked inside the truck and on the roadside.
Colorado State Patrol Capt. Barry Bratt said while there was some on-scene evidence that suggested the crash might have been linked with alcohol, there won’t be any definitive evidence until a toxicology report comes back from the Garfield County Coroner’s office.
Marion Gardner said her husband had a heart of gold.
“He was a character and he was outgoing,” she said. “He’d help out just about anybody. He always had a smile. He liked helping the homeless and needy.”
Gardner was a decorated 194th Special Forces veteran of the Vietnam War.
Marion Gardner said she was upset to see the accident’s possible link with alcohol printed in a headline in a local newspaper.
“I was heartbroken that they put it on the front page that it was alcohol-related when they don’t even know,” she said. “To put that it’s suspected is one thing, but to print it in bold – it’s killing me.”
Contact Greg Masse: 945-8515, ext 511
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