31 03 2008

Beach’s disabled golf cart driver arrested

March 30, 2008

Historic City Media

http://historiccity.com/2008/03/30/beachs-disabled-golf-cart-driver-arrested/

Morris Steinheimer is led away to a St. Augustine Police car after being placed under arrest while with Mandy Steinheimer Saturday afternoon, March 29, near the intersection of A1A Ocean Avenue and A Street.

If St. Augustine Beach city officials thought they had closed the door on the situation involving Morris Steinheimer and Mandy Fugate, Saturday saw it thrown open again with Steinheimer’s arrest.

Steinheimer and his companion Fugate who are both physically impaired due to severe brain injuries have been at the center of a dispute with the St. Augustine Beach Police Department over their use of a golf cart on the sidewalks of St. Augustine Beach and its surrounding area.

Local and state laws prohibit the use of motorized vehicles on public sidewalks, and in the past, the couple has received several written warnings and a few citations from beach police.

On Saturday, Morris was issued another citation in the early afternoon on A1A Beach Boulevard near Jack’s BBQ. This time, he refused to sign it and the police arrested him. He was later released on a pre-set bond for $200. It was the first time Steinheimer has been arrested.

“Of course he’s not going to sign that citation,” said Sandy Middlemiss, who is the primary caretaker of the couple – Fugate is her daughter – and speaks on their behalf. “I warned them he wasn’t going to sign it.”

That warning came during a series of contentious meetings with the St. Augustine Beach City Commission last year after Middlemiss and the Steinheimers argued that they were being treated unfairly by the police. St. Augustine Beach Police Chief Richard L. Hedges brought the issue before the commission, because while their use of the cart was against the law, an ordinance could be written to allow it.

An ordinance was drawn up, but its language allowed for the cart to be used on the only two streets under the city’s jurisdiction, Mickler Boulevard and Old Beach Road. Middlemiss flatly rejected it. The final meeting, on July 2 of last year, ended with the commission not approving the ordinance.

Things had been quiet since. Until now.

Hedges and the St. Augustine Beach Police Department were not available for comment on Saturday.

On Monday, Middlemiss will be calling a lawyer.

“I am not going to let this go,” she said.

She has maintained from the beginning that the couple’s right to use the golf cart on city sidewalks is defined in the Americans with Disabilities Act, and that, by denying that right, the city is in violation of federal law. Steinheimer and Fugate now have an excerpt from the act printed on the front of their golf cart.

Steinheimer and Fugate both suffered severe brain injuries from separate accidents decades ago. They met a conference in Atlanta about 10 years ago and were married shortly after.

They divorced on June 24 of last year, but have remained together. The couple divorced to allow Fugate to collect a portion of her father’s Social Security benefits, according to Middlemiss.

By Travis Hill

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4 04 2008
Golf » Beach’s disabled golf cart driver arrested March 30, 2008 Historic …

[…] ganolen wrote an interesting post today on Beachâs disabled golf cart driver arrested March 30, 2008 Historic …Here’s a quick excerptSteinheimer and his companion Fugate who are both physically impaired due to severe brain injuries have been at the center of a dispute with the St. Augustine Beach Police Department over their use of a golf cart on the sidewalks of St. … […]

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