Support for LAist comes from
We Explain L.A.
Stay Connected

Share This

This is an archival story that predates current editorial management.

This archival content was written, edited, and published prior to LAist's acquisition by its current owner, Southern California Public Radio ("SCPR"). Content, such as language choice and subject matter, in archival articles therefore may not align with SCPR's current editorial standards. To learn more about those standards and why we make this distinction, please click here.


Community Leader Killed In Road Rage Crash While Painting Over Graffiti

Before you
Dear reader, we're asking you to help us keep local news available for all. Your financial support keeps our stories free to read, instead of hidden behind paywalls. We believe when reliable local reporting is widely available, the entire community benefits. Thank you for investing in your neighborhood.

A beloved San Diego activist was hit and killed by a car in while painting over graffiti on the side of the road.

Maruta Gardner, 69, was painting over graffiti in Mission Beach when she was hit by a car that was trying to pass another vehicle, according to The San Diego Union-Tribune. Around 5:45 p.m., Gardener was near the entrance to the jetty on San Diego Place and Mission Boulevard, when a black Toyota Corolla passed a white Ford Mustang on the right, went up on the shoulder and hit Gardner. According to San Diego Police, the driver of the Toyota then pulled into a nearby parking lot for a few minutes and then sped away.

Shortly afterward, officers stopped the Toyota and arrested the driver, 23-year-old Jonathan Domingo Garcia. He was booked on suspicion of vehicular manslaughter, DUI and hit and run. It is believed he was involved in a road rage altercation with the driver of the Mustang whose identity is not known.

Gardner suffered massive head injuries and was taken to Scripps La Jolla hospital, where she died on Saturday after being taken off life support.

Support for LAist comes from

Gardner was a former educator and school principal, and well known in the Mission Beach community as an active volunteer, according to CBS 8. Affectionately known as the "Graffiti Lady," she was known for riding her bicycle, carrying supplies that she would use to paint over graffiti. She also served on the Mission Beach Town Council and a city planning committee.

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