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Woman killed crossing highway in wheelchair was days from daughter’s wedding

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Denise Morris says her god-sister, Andrea Gardner, had a winning personality, loved to have fun and cherished her family.

”She had three beautiful kids and several grandchildren. Andrea was very outgoing. She also loved to laugh and make you laugh,” Morris said.

On Monday, Sept. 10, when Morris last saw Gardner, an excited Andrea was preparing for her daughter's wedding on Saturday.

”She was really looking forward to it. She rode a bus to a friend’s house, I think, and she was going there to get her hair done for her daughter’s wedding,” Morris said.

Sadly, the family is now preparing for Gardner’s funeral.

Police say shortly before midnight Tuesday, Gardner was riding in her wheelchair, attempting to cross over 71 Highway at Gregory Boulevard when she was hit by a truck and died.

”It’s just a shock to wake up and see this on the news, that she was hit like this. It’s just a tragedy to all of us,” Morris said.

Police said the driver is a security officer and called 911 to report the accident. The woman told police it was very dark, and she didn't see Gardner when she hit her.

Much of the entire stretch of the highway is blacked out because Missouri Department of Transportation officials say thieves busted open the base of street lights to steal copper and wire.

It’s a battle MoDOT officials said they've been dealing with for years.

”We keep bringing the lights back up, and they end up coming back down. The issue is not just that they steal some of the copper, but they steal enough to shut down circuits,” said Perry Allen, MoDOT engineer.

Perry said currently, there are about 900 lights along 71 Highway, and at any give time, he said seven out of 10 don’t work due to copper-hungry thieves.

In the meantime, a hurting Morris has a message for the bold thieves: "Please, stop stealing all this copper! I’m hoping and praying God doesn’t let nobody else go through this."