Legally Blind Vet Denied Service At Fayetteville Restaurant
Posted October 18, 2006 10:45 a.m. EDT
FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. — Sgt. Maj. Colin Rich was on a foot patrol in Afghanistan when snipers attacked. He still has the helmet showing where a bullet broke through, cracking his skull and sending bone fragments into his brain.
Now, the war veteran, who is legally blind, is fighting a different battle, this one for his own civil rights.
Rich said he, his wife and a friend were thrown out of Tony's Pizza in Fayetteville because of his guide dog, Indi. He said the manager told him, Im not serving you with that dog. Take the dog out.
The wounded soldier claimed he even tried to show the manager his guide dog identification and a card citing the North Carolina law that allows service dogs in restaurants. Rich said he told the manager, It's a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act. I am authorized to be in here. All I want is some lunch."
Another manager at Tonys, Jim Crossgrove, said his co-worker made an honest mistake. He said the situation got out of hand before anyone had a chance to read the soldier's card.
"(The manager) didn't understand it," said Crossgrove. "I've only come across it once in my 40 years of food service."
Now, employees said they have been getting threatening phone calls because of the incident that they call a misunderstanding. The pizza employees have no hard feelings, however. They told WRAL that if Rich came back with his dog, they'd let him in and apologize.
Rich said that wouldn't happen. But he said he hopes that, at the very least, others wouldn't have to go through what he did. Since Fayetteville is a military town, more soldiers almost certainly will be injured in the line of duty.