Man on Crutches Gets Town To Void $150 Ticket for Parking in Handicapped Space

Town officials last week voided a $150 ticket issued to a man who parked in a handicapped space at the New Canaan Post Office though he had no such permit at the time.

The Post Office in New Canaan. This is where it happened.

Gordon Thurber told members of the Parking Commission during a public hearing that he circled the Post Office three times trying to find a parking spot on the afternoon of Tuesday April 17 but “there wasn’t a place to park within three-quarters of a mile.”

Thurber needed to drop into the Post Office to file his taxes that day, and said he’s been unable to walk without crutches since having an accident (a hip replacement is needed, he said) “so I pulled into the handicapped spot” and “and less than five minutes later” there was a ticket on the windshield, he said at the May 10 appeal hearing, held in Town Hall. The ticket for parking illegally in a handicapped zone is by far the most severe in New Canaan and the commission in the past has never voided it, as a rule.

Yet in this case, Chairman Keith Richey and Commissioners Stuart Stringfellow and Chris Hering voted to void. Commissioners Pam Crum and Peter Ogilvie voted to uphold, making it a 3-2 vote in Thurber’s favor.

Thurber said that two side-by-side handicapped spots at the Post Office were both empty when he took one.

“I crutched in as fast as I could and deposited and came out to do lot to the handicapped spot, the one next to me was still vacant but I already somehow had a ticket,” he said. “So I was hoping to get some leniency on that because I already had an issue in process to get my handicapped sticker, which I got two days later. And I have here whatever you might want to see. I would show you my handicapped sticker now but I am using it right outside.”

Crum noted during deliberations that Thurber appeared not to have gone for his handicapped permit until after receiving the ticket.

“He got his ticket on 4/17, he didn’t go to the doctor to get a handicapped permit until 4/18, because the doctor signed it on 4/18 and then it was issued on the 20th, but he didn’t ask for one until after he got the ticket,” she said.

Ogilvie called Thurber’s appearance before the Commission “a very good performance.”

“I mean, it gets a theatrical prize,” he said. (Thurber arrived at the hearing a bit late, on crutches.)

Ogilvie added: “To go to the doctor the day after you get the ticket is a revealing action.”

Hering said that although the timing showed Thurber’s thought-process, the ticketed man still appeared to have a real need.

“Clearly he was motivated by the ticket to get his parking permit, but it’s clear that he has an injury and it was validated by the doctor,” Hering said.

Crum responded that she had hip replacement surgery in the past and “I got around without crutches.”

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