Stuck by DART

Someday, DART might boost Fair Park business, but for now...

Gardner says he was in shock after getting struck, picked himself up, grabbed the lone bottle of alcohol that survived the collision and brought it into the café. He noticed a traffic officer outside and asked her to take an accident report, but Gardner was told DART police would be handling it. At that point, an ambulance was called after the bus driver asked Gardner if he needed one.

Gardner says he waited in his café until DART police arrived, and after spending a short amount of time with him, the officer left to speak with the driver. When the ambulance arrived, Gardner says, the paramedics spoke with the driver for approximately 10 minutes before speaking with him, and he was told that the accident was comparable to getting hit by a football player. No written statement was taken from Gardner, and he was left at the scene.

Gardner's mother arrived after the ambulance left and took him to the hospital, where he says he accumulated more than $20,000 in medical bills to treat severe whiplash and injuries to his back, left knee, right shoulder and left forearm. He says simply shaking someone's hand and lifting heavy objects is painful, and he is no longer able to work long hours as he did before.

Troy Gardner stands inside Exposition Park Café for the last time after battling DART for two years.
Brandon Thibodeaux
Troy Gardner stands inside Exposition Park Café for the last time after battling DART for two years.

"I broke nothing, but it jacked me up. I'm gonna be jacked up for my whole life," Gardner says. "I'm a sturdy guy. Had I been less sturdy, I would have been screwed up more. I can't do stuff like I did before."

Ball, citing DART records, says Gardner was jaywalking and didn't see the bus because of the box on his shoulder. Ball also says records show the bus "either hit or bumped him," and there was a report from the driver saying Gardner stepped in front of the bus. Additionally, Ball says Gardner never filed a claim to seek reimbursement for his medical bills.

"Obviously we can't be expected to consider paying for any medical bills when we know nothing about it," Ball says.

Gardner says he contacted DART shortly after the accident, but he never heard back from them. After he was told about Ball's comments, he filed an official claim and maintains that the DART reports are incorrect accounts of the accident. Gardner says he contacted 11 lawyers to handle his case, but none of them accepted it because they feared fighting a powerful city entity backed by high-priced lawyers.

After spending approximately $18,000 on plumbing and other issues in the building along with selling his TV, guitars and other personal items to keep his café afloat, Gardner found himself owing $4,500 in back rent and could no longer justify keeping the café open. "It's been a long, arduous process," he says, but he hopes eventually to relocate his café to Mockingbird Station, where, ironically, DART is thriving.

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