Ponoka County lost the face of its organization when longtime employee Jerry Gartner was killed in a two-vehicle collision on Hwy 2 on Friday night, said chief administrative officer Charlie Cutforth.
Gartner, 59, was driving home from Red Deer when a southbound SUV left the highway, crossed the median and struck his minivan in the northbound lanes. Gartner was the lone occupant in his vehicle and died at the scene.
“He was a terrific friend of all of ours for a lot of years. We’re all coping but it’s a bit of a struggle all right,” Cutforth said on Tuesday.
“It left a huge hole in this operation, that’s for sure.”
Gartner worked for the county for 33 years, first as a heavy-duty mechanic and most recently as the assistant public works superintendent. He is being remembered as a diligent and hardworking employee who always had a smile on his face.
A funeral service will be held at Trinity Lutheran Church in Ponoka on Thursday at 1 p.m. and Cutforth anticipates it will be very well attended.
“In many respects, he was the face of the county with many of our residents and ratepayers.”
Gartner is survived by his wife Tami, two sons, a daughter, a step-daughter and step-son, a grandson and granddaughter, as well as brothers and sisters.
Ponoka RCMP’s Integrated Traffic Services Unit responded to the collision near Lacombe around 7:40 p.m. and the crash resulted in the closure of the northbound lanes for several hours.
The SUV driver, a male in his 20s, was transported to Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre and was listed in stable condition.
Police said the collision is still under investigation.