BOSTON (CBS) – Sandi Rush has raced around the world in a wheelchair, but trying to get to the Falmouth road race on August 14 was perhaps the biggest challenge. Flying in to Logan airport from her home in Fallbrook, California, she was trying to board a Peter Pan bus to the Cape. But the driver, she says, refused to help her with the wheelchair ramp.
“He asked me, ‘can you walk’? I said, ‘no I cannot walk”, and he said it was going to put him off schedule,” said Rush. Feeling helpless she says she let the driver and another passenger carry her on the bus to move things along.”They got me and carried me up the stairs in a fireman hold and put me on the bus.”
WBZ-TV’s Beth Germano reports
She claims the return trip wasn’t much better when the driver had a hard time getting the lift down and didn’t know how to open the door.
“I was embarrassed and humiliated,” she said.
Rush says she wasn’t alone, that three other wheelchair racers had similar problems with Peter Pan, ranging from one whose wheelchair was damaged when it was loaded, to another who says he requested in advance a bus with a ramp and it arrived without one.
The experience is a familiar one for Karen Schneiderman at Boston’s Center for Independent Living who says people with disabilities shouldn’t be an inconvenience in society.
“People need training in how to accommodate our differences. That takes time and a willingness on the part of the company,” she said.
A Peter Pan spokesman acknowledges the company has received the complaints, and will only say it’s now investigating what happened, though calling it highly unusual. Peter Pan does have a policy to accommodate people with disabilities. It requires that passengers call the bus line at least two days in advance to ensure a bus that is wheelchair accessible.
Rush says the ordeal left a lasting impression and her first trip to Falmouth could be her last.
“It doesn’t take long to show a moment of human compassion,” she said.