Funeral services will be held Saturday for a 6-year-old Mesa boy who was struck and killed by semi-truck whose rear wheels jumped a curb and struck him as he was coming home from school.
Holden Gardner was on the sidewalk at the intersection of Power Road and Jensen Street, when he was struck Monday afternoon. Published reports said he was in the company of his sister and an aunt.
Holden, a kindergartener at Falcon Hill Elementary School, was transported to a local hospital in critical condition but died upon arrival.
The son of Red Mountain High School teacher Brent Gardner, Holden's death prompted an outpouring of support from students and neighbors.
Red Mountain High senior outfielder Dakota Duffalo vowed to play this season in honor of Holden and his father, saying, “Everyone has been pretty sad. We always see Mr. Gardner around campus, he's a great guy. It's sad it happened to him. We are going to play for him and his son this year."
Similar sentiments have been bountiful with neighbors and strangers alike flooding the GoFundMe page that was set up by family friend Amber Smith Long.
That page, set up to help cover funeral and medical costs, has swelled since it was posted to $38,439, as of Thursday.
A family statement written by Long on the page thanked the community for their continued support, saying the the Gardners have been humbled by the love they’ve received.
“On behalf of the Gardners’ family and friends, a sincere thank you goes out for all of the generous donations from loved ones and strangers who are mourning with them,” Long wrote. “The goal has been reached, but feel free to continue to share this campaign. It is remaining open for donations for those who would still like to show support and love in this way. I trust that Brent and Jasmine will be wise and gracious stewards of the donations they receive. It will help them in many ways as they navigate through this new, heartbreaking life they have to figure out one day at a time.”
Similar sentiments were shared by the Mesa Public School District, which issued a statement expressing deepest sympathies to Brent and Jasmine Gardner, as well as their three other children.
“The Mesa Public Schools family is saddened by the tragic death of an elementary school student this afternoon in a traffic accident,” the district statement said. “Our thoughts are with the child’s family and friends. The district will be providing additional counseling support tomorrow and for as long as needed by the school community."
The district indicated that officials at Falcon Hill Elementary would not tell the students about the accident and instead advise parents to talk to their children/
The mood around Red Mountain High was rather somber in the aftermath of the tragedy, according to senior Hyrum Boren.
Hyrum, who has grown to know the Gardner family through the years, said a somber mood prevailed in the school halls.
“It was rough. We didn't do too much learning. Everyone was trying to cope with it,” Boren said. “Mr. Gardner is an awesome guy; I've been in contact with him for a long time. He's just an awesome guy. We've really rallied together. It's something most people can't talk about without crying to each other. So, it hasn't been talked about too much, but all our thoughts and prayers are with Mr. Gardner right now."
Holden's mother posted a tribute to her son on her personal Facebook page , writing:
“Holden loved board games. He loved sports (especially basketball and video games with his dad (and all other times too). He loved being outside. He LOVED rocks and fossils and wanted to be a paleontologist/archeologist when he grew up. He loved his cousins. He loved dogs and he loved Greysen. He loved Jesus and church and he looked so dang good in his Sunday clothes. He was the best helper and the coolest kid I know. And HE IS MINE. For all eternity, he is mine.”
Mesa police said the accident is still under investigation, and declined comment on why a semi-truck had been on two-lane Jensen Street as it made a right turn onto Power Road just before the accident.
A funeral will be held at 11 a.m. Feb. 8 at the church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Red Mountain Institute of Religion, at 7126 E. McKellips Road, Mesa.
The family asks that, in lieu of flowers, that attendees honor Holden with rocks and fossils - two of his favorite things.
Holden was survived by his father, Brent, and mother, Jasmine, and three siblings.