(LEX 18) — In late March of 2020, 30-year-old Whitney Gardner died at work while picking up trash on a garbage truck in Lexington. Her mother says she fell off the truck, hit her head then went into convulsions. Gardner never woke up and died four days later.
"I don't think any parent or any employee should have went through this I feel like it could have been prevented," said Peggy Roark.
The Fayette County coroner investigated the incident as a workplace accident and ruled Gardner's cause of death as blunt force trauma to the head.
More than a year after her daughter's death, Roark is making sure Whitney is not forgotten. She contacted LEX 18 about a billboard on Nicholasville Road that honors her daughter and three others who died in work accidents.
"It's such an honor it has melted my heart," said Roark. "It's happy and sad but to know I have people that are supportive and put a billboard of my daughter to know that she's not forgotten."
The non-profit group, United Support and Memorial for Workplace Fatalities is responsible for the billboard located on Nicholasville Road in Jessamine County. According to USMWF's Facebook page, the group believes families who have a loss need to be acknowledged and know their losses are not a number or a statistic. The organization provides support, awareness, tributes, memorials, and resources to families.
"No one knows until they've been in this circumstance to lose a loved one and what it does to the families left behind," said Roark.
She says extra safety measures, such as a harness, may have prevented her daughter's fall. Roark knows she can't change the past but hopes she can help others in the future.
"I'm hoping that my daughter and her story can change and help other parents, educate and advocate that this never happens again."