RALEIGH, N.C. — Most people who use wheelchairs need special adjustments on their vehicles. Those changes can be costly, so state agencies often helps people with the expense.
Dennis Winstead, a quadriplegic, said he was promised help, but did not get it. He said the lift on his van is rickety, uncomfortable and dangerous.
He also said his 11-year-old van is also unsafe to drive, which is why he bought this newer van more than two years ago, but he has not been able to use it. Winstead said he makes payments of $600 a month for the van.
"The van is just sitting there. It's just frustrating," he said.
Winstead said he bought the van because North Carolina's Division of Vocational Rehabilitation and Independent Living (DVR) agreed to pay for the $14,000 in modifications it needs.
"I was told to get the van first and everything else would follow through," Winstead said.
The process was supposed to take up to a year, but more than two years and dozens of phone calls later, the van still sat in his driveway.
"I'd call this person and they'd tell me to call this person. I'd call that person and they say to call this person," Winstead said. "It just went on and on and on like that. I mean it was just ridiculous."
Winstead decided to call Five on Your Side. Five On Your Side called DVR.
"I wish I knew. I wish I could understand what happened," said director George McCoy.
McCoy was not with the division when most of this was going on. He blames it on confusion over exactly what modifications the van needed.
"I think we have had really poor communication with him on this project. I think our staff's intentions were good, but I don't think they executed it well," he said.
After Five On Your Side's involvement, Winstead has his newly modified van. While Five On Your Side were interviewing Winstead, state engineers showed up to check on it.
A few fixes still need to be made, but Winstead is just glad it is ready to ride.
"This is like a limousine compared to that one," he said.
McCoy said he has already met with his staff to work on ways to improve the organization of the office, to make sure situations like this do not happen again.