Midland amputee speaks out about illegal handicap space parking

MIDLAND -- The city of Midland said it issued 324 disabled/ handicapped parking violations in 2018, mostly written by a small group of community members in Citizens on Patrol. But some community members believe illegal disabled/handicapped parking is a bigger problem that needs more resources.

One Midland amputee, Joanna Urias, says illegally parking in handicapped spaces is not just an inconvenience, it can have big consequences for those who need the spots.

Urias pulled into a handicap parking space Wednesday afternoon to pick up her 3-year-old son, Dallas, from Number 1 Wee Care Learning Center off Lamesa in Midland. The expectant mother was thankful there was a spot available.

“Not that it’s every occasion that I’m driving up and there’s somebody parked there. But yeah, it’s probably 80 percent of the time. It’s a lot,” she said.

For many community members with disabilities, illegal handicap space parking is more than an inconvenience.

“Because I’m an above- knee amputee, my socket goes a lot higher. And so yes, it can get very uncomfortable, it can rub in the wrong places. And the more uncomfortable it gets, the slower I get,” she said.

Urias said the thought of her reaction time races through her mind every day as the parent of a toddler.

“If he were to get out of that front door without me and get into that traffic, that’s every parent’s worst fear. And because I was a pedestrian in my accident. I was run over by multiple vehicles. It is a trigger for me. That’s something that I do not want to happen to my son, or any child at that daycare. But I feel like the pressure is just added when you’re a handicapped parent and don’t have the accessibility that you need,” she said.

In 2017, Urias was hit by a driver while crossing 42nd street in Odessa. Urias said the driver drove away, and the accident is still under investigation. The accident left Urias with her right leg amputated above the knee and two broken bones in her forearm.

The mother said some community members who park in the spaces illegally, don’t express remorse.

“I think it’s frustration and sadness. Because it’s inconsiderate on their part and it’s obvious that they’re not affected by it personally,” she said.

The owner of the learning center told CBS7 she has reminded drivers who’ve parked in the spaces illegally, to park in appropriate places.

Urias also said she placed a sign in the lobby of the child care facility.

The owner of the learning center added that around four years ago, she asked MPD to patrol the area. An officer did patrol the area, and gave some violators $500 tickets, according to Helen Price.

Urias said she recently spoke with MPD about patrolling the area and fining those who illegally park. Urias said the department told her it could not assign a full-time officer to patrol the area due to lack of resources.

The mother highlighted the importance of speaking out when witnessing wrong-doing.

“I think it’s very important to speak up, whether you are witnessing the wrong being done or whether you are the person with the disability being wronged, I don’t think you should be intimidated into not speaking up or into keeping quiet,” she said.