7 On Your Side: Elderly woman trapped in home gets new wheelchair ramp
LAUREL, Md. (ABC7) —
On a cold November afternoon, welder Matt Powers and his assistant install a wheelchair ramp in front of a home in Laurel.
Powers came from Pennsylvania, on his own time, after watching a 7 On Your Side story in July.
After their son built an unpermitted ramp never shown to be compliant with all safety regulations, Prince George's County asked the son to bring the ramp up to code and offered to help him do so several times. The homeowners, his parents, could face fines if it was not.
Frustrated, the son instead decided to tear the ramp down.
Inside that Laurel home, 91-year-old Evelyn Strahle felt trapped, her wheelchair ramp now gone.
“I got infuriated,” Powers tells ABC7. “Being as though they were strangers, that's when I contacted you to see if I could do something.”
Powers custom designed and built a metal ramp with financial help from Local Steamfitters 602, based in Landover, Maryland.
No longer trapped, now able to leave her home and visit family, Evelyn Strahle went down her new ramp the first time.
“Liberated. Wonderful. I feel so blessed,” said Strahle.
“Priceless. You can't put a price on that,” said Powers, reacting to the moment.
The new ramp still needs its permit. Powers and Prince George’s County inspectors say they are committed to working together to make sure it is safe and ADA compliant.
"The letter of the law says that you absolutely will get a permit,” says Gary Cunningham, Prince Georges County DPIE Deputy Director. “You absolutely will get it inspected, and you will do it in that order. But the spirit of the law is not intended to hurt or harm anybody that's trying to do something out of good will."
The family, a concerned viewer who decided to step up, and safety inspectors are on the way toward a good resolution for Evelyn Strahle.
“Thank you so much. Never give up,” said Strahle at the bottom of her new ramp.