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Motorcyclist sentenced for drunk driving in crash that killed wife

A 49-year old man was sentenced to more than eight years in prison on Friday on drunk driving and other charges rising from  the motorcycle crash that killed his wife, District Attorney R. Andrew Murray announced.

Chief Superior Court Judge Peter Knight sentenced Charles Louis Gardner, 49, of Flat Rock, to 73-100 months in prison on charges of aggravated death by vehicle, driving while impaired and driving while license revoked. According to court records and Friday's sentencing hearing, the North Carolina State Highway Patrol responding to the motorcycle crash on Aug. 4, 2018, on U.S. 64 near Lake Lure in Henderson County found that Gardner and his wife, Joanie Gardner, had been thrown from the motorcycle.

Joanie Gardner was killed upon impact with the ground and her husband suffered extensive life-threatening injuries. The Highway Patrol’s investigation revealed that the defendant had been operating the motorcycle on a revoked license for a prior drunk driving conviction and was appreciably impaired at the time of the accident with a blood alcohol content of .14. The investigation further showed that Gardner was speeding as he attempted to pass a commercial box truck on the left in a no passing zone. The driver of the box truck initiated a lawful left turn simultaneous to the motorcycle passing him resulting in the motorcycle impacting the driver’s side mirror and both occupants being thrown from the motorcycle.

Senior Assistant District Attorneys Beth Dierauf and Doug Mundy handled the prosecution, conviction and sentencing of the defendant. Murray thanked the N.C. Highway Patrol for its thorough investigation of the tragic incident.