Thursday, October 21, 2004
That's Just Wrong: Elevator Promise
It is the ultimate promise - a vow between a mother and her child. She swore she'd always take care of him since he can't walk or talk. But tonight, times may be too tough even for this dedicated mom. Her promise in jeopardy all because of a broken elevator that she says is just wrong.
(WSVN) -- Every afternoon, Victoria Rowe crosses busy NW. 135th Street in Opa-Locka to meet her son's school bus.
Victoria says six-year-old Malik is special.
Born five months prematurely, he was never supposed to live this long, much less go to school.
Victoria Rowe: "He born early and he has cerebral palsy, he can't walk, he can't talk, he can't do nothing for himself."
Malik however has overcome the odds.
This year, he even started kindergarten and was supposed to go to therapy.... supposed to go.
For months, Malik's sessions have been cut short.
And that's because his family is having a hard time getting him in and out of their fourth floor apartment.
Sach Hope: "Since February of this year the elevator broke down and it's never worked again."
Victoria Rowe: "It's more than one time we report to them to let them know there's a handicapped child here, we need them, we need the elevator and they refuse to do anything."
So for eight months, malik's brother or a nurse have had to carry him up and down the stairs.
When neither of them are home, his mother, who has health problems of her own, sits at the bottom of the stairs, waiting for a neighbor to help.
Victoria Rowe: "He's sweet and loving and he really doesn't deserve this."
Sach Hope: "They tell us they're trying, they're trying their best to fix it but eight months if you're trying your best, that's ridiculous."
Now, as you would imagine, climbing the stairs with a 42 pound child isn't easy.
But under the Americans With Disabilities Act, the building owner is required to maintain the elevator or offer a first floor apartment.
The family says they've never been given the option.
We caught up to someone from the building's new management company who did not want to speak to us on camera.
But off camera, they told us the elevator should be fixed by the end of the week.
Michael Chavez: "I believe that the delay was first due to negotiations and then the owner was trying to find funds for this because it's not a cheap repair."
Miami-Dade Chief Elevator Inspector tells 7-News the elevator is now running because we brought it to his attention.
The final repair was replacing the phone which was finished late today.
Michael Chavez: "We'll follow through on it and if the owner drags his heels too long, we'll probably site them."
But it's too little too late for Malik's family.
They've decided they can no longer wait and must move to a new home.
A home where Victoria can finally keep the promise she made the day Malik was born.
Victoria Rowe: "When my son was born I promised him that I would always be there to help him."
It turns out the apartment building owner was planning to evict victoria anyway after she stopped paying rent to protest the broken elevator.
As for the elevator, the phone is fixed, inspections are now complete and the elevator is working.
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