11 June 2006

Disabled visitors sue Myrtle Beach

Article published Jan 3, 2006

Disabled visitors sue Myrtle Beach

Associated Press

MYRTLE BEACH -- A lawsuit saying the beaches in Myrtle Beach aren't accessible to the disabled has been filed in federal court.

The lawsuit says the city constructed a walkway to the beach with steps over what was previously a flat route.

It also says Myrtle Beach's portable bathrooms lack bars for the disabled and the city's handicapped parking is flawed because of drains, steep slopes and incorrectly drawn spaces.

Linda Vandeusen, of Columbia, and Edward Law, of Orlando, Fla., are asking for undisclosed monetary damages and an injunction forcing the city to comply with state and federal laws concerning access for the disabled.

Both use wheelchairs and said they visited Myrtle Beach during the last couple of years.

Vandeusen is a member of Advocates for Disabled Americans and recently filed a number of similar suits against Lexington County, Richland County, a Charleston hotel, gas station and International House of Pancakes, a Lexington Applebee's, a Hilton Head Island Comfort Inn and a mall in Greenville.

"I'm trying to have accessibility to things that we people with disabilities should have access to," Vandeusen said.

Myrtle Beach spokesman Mark Kruea said a number of the city's beach accesses are handicapped-accessible.

The city also offers free beach-going wheelchairs and has an employees to make sure the city is compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act, Kruea said.

Vandeusen's attorney said that is not enough. The city's beach wheelchairs are too heavy for a disabled person to operate without assistance, Anthony Brady said.

Myrtle Beach also needs pathways to the beaches that normal wheelchairs can access, said Brady, who thinks the city should use Hilton Head Island's beach accesses as a model.

A judge has ordered the suit into mediation by Aug. 11 and set a Nov. 1 trial date.

Originally published: http://tinyurl.com/qevym

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