Government Forces 91-Year-Old Woman to Dismantle Home Wheelchair Ramp
Confined to her wheelchair, 91-year-old Evelyn Strahle used to have her 94-year-old husband, David Strahle, help lift her up and down the small staircase on their front porch whenever they wanted to leave the home. As the couple got older, it became increasingly difficult for David to help Evelyn. They turned to their son for a solution.
Bob Strahle works in construction. Rather than watch his parents spend $5000 on a wheelchair ramp through a contractor company, he bought the lumber himself and built it for them. His mother was then free to travel about and leave the home in her wheelchair without fear of her husband getting hurt trying to lift her.
“Very well built and I felt very safe on it always,” explained Evelyn, testifying to the exceptional work done by her son.
Then the government happened.
A building code inspector for Prince George’s County (Maryland) saw the wheelchair ramp and immediately ordered it to be dismantled. The letter he sent to the Strahle’s warned that they would face fines and imprisonment if they did not show up to court to explain they had an unpermitted wheelchair ramp.
“There was an inspector that showed up here twice when I was here and I asked him why couldn’t he just inspect it and tell me if there was anything I needed to do to make any improvements on it so that it would fit permitting requirements but he said that wasn’t the process and I had to go through the long route,” explained son Bob Strahle.
Bob submitted plans and tried to file for a permit but was denied because he built the ramp before asking county government. Prince George’s County mailed an order to the parents, demanding they show to District Court May 16th. The county sought compliance with building code. The order warned in bold lettering “if you fail to comply with such default order, you may be subject to fines or imprisonment, or both, for contempt of court.”
Not wanting any trouble with the courts, Bob tore down the wheelchair ramp, essentially depriving his mother of freedom of travel once again.
The family then wrote a letter to the director of the “Department Of Permitting,” who wrote back apologetically, throwing his subordinates under the bus and blaming it on other employees for failing to notify him of the unique circumstances of this particular “code violation.”
It’s unclear whether or not the ramp will be “allowed” to be rebuilt.
Video from WJLA: