(WSVN) - A South Florida teenager is fighting a traumatic injury, but he now has a new battle on his hands. 7’s Robbin Simmons has tonight’s 7 Investigates.

Camille Harrison, Frederick Climpson’s mother: “We’ve told you all about his condition. Ma’am, he’s been traveling 42 miles for the last two months, OK?”

A mom is fed up with a Miami-Dade County Transportation service after things went sour when her paralyzed son needed a ride.

Camille Harrison: “It built up to a point where I was like, ‘OK, I’m done,’ because I’m frustrated.”

Camille Harrison is doing all she can to get her son Frederick back to the energetic teenager he once was. Back in September, a helmet-to-helmet hit at a Homestead Senior High School football game left him severely injured.

Frederick now needs a wheelchair. He relies on Miami-Dade County’s Special Transportation Service, or STS, to get him to his weekly physical therapy appointments.

The service, funded by tax dollars, allows county residents with disabilities to ride for $3.

Camille Harrison: “It’s a service that gets my son back and forth to his doctor’s appointments or anywhere he needs to go, if he needs to run errands or anything.

The ride to rehab is more than 40 miles from Frederick’s Florida City home.

Because of his spinal injury, he has to recline his chair throughout the day to keep his blood flowing, which means he has to ride in the front of the van to have enough space.

Camille Harrison: “The dispatcher told us that if we want those type of accommodations for him, that we have to let them know ahead of time.”

The family says they did call the county ahead of time. But things got heated on Feb. 6 when a driver put Frederick in the back.

Camille Harrison: “I said, ‘No, no, he don’t go to the back. I had made special accommodations for him in his notes.’ He called dispatch, and then he told me, ‘Oh, they’re going to send somebody else.’ I said, ‘No, if they send somebody else, he won’t make it in time to his appointment.'”

Camille recorded as her son was forced off the van.

Camille Harrison: “‘Get off, get off, ma’am. Get off.’ I said, ‘No, I’m not going anywhere. Call the police,’ and they was like, ‘If police dispatch you, you can lose – you can lose the service.'”

Frederick missed his appointment that day, and for the next three days, the van didn’t come to pick him up.

The Miami-Dade Transit website says it is responsible for “resolving riders’ concerns.”

But Camille says, after several calls to the county, nothing has been done.

Camille Harrison: “They need to retrain their workers. They need to teach them compassion.”

Frederick is now using a new transportation service paid through his insurance. But Camille hopes the county addresses problems like these because the transportation service is vital for so many.

Camille Harrison: “My son, he was like, ‘This how I’m going to be treated?’ Like, he already had a traumatic injury.”

Frederick has a long road ahead of him. He certainly didn’t need this transportation trouble.

Robbin Simmons, 7News.

The county told 7 Investigates that it does not have a record of Frederick’s family reaching out about his accommodation prior to the incident. They are reviewing what happened and say they will try to accommodate all reasonable requests from riders.

The county released the following statement to 7News:

We are aware of the incident involving Frederick Climpson and his mother on February 6, 2024, after requesting STS transportation services. We take all reports of service-related issues seriously and are committed to ensuring the safety and accessibility of our transportation services for all passengers, including those with special needs. 

Upon review of the incident, it has been determined that Frederick’s mother, the Primary Care Attendant (PCA), contacted the DTPW Paratransit call center on the day of the incident. Upon arrival of the STS vehicle at her home, Frederick’s mother expressed concerns regarding the seating arrangement for Frederick. According to her, he requires unique transportation accommodations due to his condition. Our staff provided guidance regarding the process for requesting reasonable accommodations and asked her to contact the DTPW ADA officer for further assistance.

Unfortunately, during this interaction, there was some misunderstanding, and the situation escalated, leading to delays in service for other STS clients. We understand that passengers may sometimes require accommodations beyond our standard procedure, and while we strive to accommodate all reasonable requests, there are instances where requests fall outside what is permissible and can inadvertently impact our riders. 

We encourage passengers who require special accommodations to become familiar with the County’s STS guidelines and policies and to proactively communicate their needs to our call center, allowing us to better assist them. Additionally, DTPW is committed to working closely with our service contractor to continue providing the highest level of service and customer experience.

We understand the frustration Frederick Climpson and his mother experienced and we regret any inconvenience caused. We remain dedicated to providing safe, reliable, and inclusive transportation services to all residents of Miami-Dade County. We will ensure that our team reviews this incident carefully to identify any areas for improvement and to prevent similar situations in the future.

Calvin Sykes
Miami-Dade County Department of Transportation and Public Works


Copyright 2024 Sunbeam Television Corp. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Join our Newsletter for the latest news right to your inbox