Nationwide manhunt ends in Valdosta - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Nationwide manhunt ends in Valdosta

^ Dr. Don Diebel ^ Dr. Don Diebel
^ Fireman Shane Kelly ^ Fireman Shane Kelly
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November 13, 2002

Valdosta - Deputy Eric Robinson brings a close to the nationwide man hunt for Mack Gardner.

"I noticed on my way to work that the semi was parked so I figured he was home, so I called for backup, we went inside and arrested him," said Robinson.

Authorities in Lowndes and Sumter County, Florida have been searching for Gardner since June, when two good samaritans helping victims of a car accident on the Florida turnpike, were hit and killed.

Dr. Don Diebel and Fireman Shane Kelly were both returning home when they stopped to help the victims, and were struck by an eighteen wheeler police believe was driven by Gardner. He was already wanted in Lowndes County for failure to appear in court.

"We had four counts of writing bad checks on him that he never showed up for court on," said Robinson.

The search intensified when Lowndes authorities were notified of the incidents in Florida. "We started looking for him about three weeks ago when we got the warrant from Sumter County," said Robinson. "I would go by but he'd always be on a run somewhere else, so I kept going back until this weekend when we finally got him."

Sunday, Gardner overslept and gave authorities the chance they'd been waiting for. "He went up to the attic and was hiding but I could hear him," said Robinson. "We tried to call him out but had to go up there and get him."

Robert Johnson of Valdosta was also in the semi when Gardner struck the victims, but has not been charged. Gardner is now being held in the Lowndes County jail facing two counts of vehicular homicide and four misdemeanor charges, awaiting extradition to Florida.

posted at 2:30 by ashley.harper@walb.com