A construction crew tore up the sidewalk, forcing a wheelchair-bound vet to cross the road, and then came a terrifying moment that he thought would cost him his life. He survived, but it did cost him his wheelchair. It’s why he turned to Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser.

Robert Hunter was sent to Iraq to fight for America. It cost him terribly.

Robert Hunter: “I’m a vet. I’m injured. I have neuropathy, sciatic nerve damage, shrapnel in my spine from being in the service.”

Robert was in a helicopter crash and doesn’t like to talk about it, but every time he tries to walk, he is reminded of it.

Robert Hunter: “If I go beyond 10 steps, my legs were going to go trembling because my body can’t support my body weight, and I don’t want to fall.”

Robert doesn’t have strength in his hands, so he needs this electric wheelchair to get around, and the other day headed to visit a friend.

Robert Hunter: “There’s construction on my block where they’ve torn up the concrete.”

As you can see, part of the sidewalk was ripped out.

Robert Hunter: “So I cut across the grass to get to the other side to utilize that sidewalk.

Robert says he wanted to let the construction crew know he was crossing the street.

Robert Hunter: “I waved and whistled. I thought they saw me or heard me.”

But apparently, the guy driving this massive front-end loader didn’t and hit reverse.

Robert Hunter: “And he’s booming at high rate speed. I couldn’t get out of the way, my wheelchair wasn’t fast enough, and I’m like I got nothing to do but jump out of my wheelchair, or I’m going to get run over.”

With that rush of adrenaline, Robert was able to get out of the wheelchair.

Robert Hunter: “I’m on the ground laying there. I tore up my arm, I’m bleeding.”

Robert was scratched up but fine. That $3,000 electric wheelchair he has to have to get around was destroyed.

Robert Hunter: “Man, I can’t believe this. I’m flabbergasted, you know? I’m, like, totally shocked.”

Robert says the construction supervisor said they would get back in touch to see if they were going to replace his chair. They never called him.

Robert Hunter: “I don’t have the money to buy my own chair. I’m on disability.”

Fortunately, Robert’s health insurance company loaned him a wheelchair till the end of May. But after that, Robert says he won’t have a chair and won’t be able to move around…

Robert Hunter: “That’s my transportation, that’s my livelihood right there. I have a dilemma I don’t know how to correct.”

Well, Howard, legally who is at fault here? The construction company for not making sure no one was behind them when they backed up or Robert for going in the road?

Howard Finkelstein: “Florida has a specific law that says if a person in a motorized wheelchair can’t use the sidewalk because it’s damaged or removed, they have the right to use the roadway. Robert followed the law, therefore the construction company has to get him a new wheelchair.”

We wanted to talk to the people at Lanzo Construction. They were not happy to see us.

A company rep did tell us they were turning it over to their insurance company but added they don’t think they are responsible for the incident, that Robert should not have been on the road.

Howard Finkelstein: “If the construction company doesn’t pay for a wheelchair, government agencies require them to have liability insurance, and in this case, Hollywood can tell the contractor, if you want another job with us, you need to take care of this wheelchair.”

We contacted Hollywood and they gave us the contractor’s certificate of insurance. We will help Robert file a claim with them to replace his chair.

Robert Hunter: “Might be a good Samaritan or somebody. Hey, that would be a godsend, that would be a blessing.”

We are looking, Robert.

I was contacted by a fellow we helped in a Help Me Howard who said he wanted to pay it forward after what we did for him. He might be able to help Robert.

One way or another Robert, we are going to help you.

Feel like you have been hit by a road grader? Need to pave the way to a solution? Contact us and see if we can construct a smooth path for you.

Email: helpmehoward@wsvn.com
Reporter: Patrick Fraser at pfraser@wsvn.com
Miami-Dade: 305-953-WSVN
Broward: 954-761-WSVN

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