A Wichita mom is searching for answers after she said someone illegally parked in the only handicapped spaces outside a store and said then the driver keyed her van.
Ruth Johnson and her family were at Target on E. 21st St. on Sunday (Feb. 11) when they tried to park in a handicap space.
“We have two little ones who have osteogenesis imperfecta, which is brittle bones,” Johnson said. “Our daughter just recently broke her femur and had to have surgery, so she is non-weight bearing for about six to eight weeks and has to be in a wheelchair.”
Johnson said the car ahead of them parked in the wheelchair accessible lane, forcing them to back in to park. She said that was the only way they’d be able to get her daughter out of her car seat into her wheelchair.
They were able to make it inside the store, but when they came out, Johnson said they found their car damaged from being keyed.
“You don’t think that that’s actually going to happen.”
The family took pictures and filed a police report, but decided to post on social media to raise awareness for people parking illegally in handicap spaces.
“It makes things very inconvenient for us,” Johnson said. “We either have to go somewhere else or park further away, which makes it very hard for us to get in and out of the store.”
Amy Haught is another mother who has experienced issues with handicap parking. Her 19-year-old daughter, Maya needs a wheelchair to get around.
“If we didn’t have it, she wouldn’t go anywhere,” Haught said.
Both moms hope that sharing their stories will get people to pay more attention when parking near or in handicap spaces.
“I just wish people would open their eyes and see that not everybody has two legs and can get out and walk around and move about easily,” Haught said. “There are reasons for these places and it’s not to impede you, it’s to help others.”
The Wichita Police Department has an open investigation about this case.
According to Target officials, the store has handed over surveillance video to investigators.
There is an app called Parking Mobility that allows you to take photos and report vehicles parked illegally in handicap parking spaces or loading zones. Those photos and the information is sent to the local police department.
For more information or to download the app, click here.
The Wichita Police Department is also working to catch those who park illegally. It has a team of 20 citizens who have volunteered to travel around the city locating and identify those who are violating parking laws.
For more information about the Accessible Parking Program, click here.