Beaufort woman awaits wheelchair van repairs, claims dealership did ‘nothing’

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BEAUFORT, S.C. (WSAV) – A Beaufort woman says her van is her lifeline, and recent repairs at a local dealership only made her problems worse.

Ella Fields is a double amputee who uses her van every day to stay independent.

“If I have to go grocery shopping, I take myself; if I have to go to the doctor’s office, I take myself; or if I want to go riding for pleasure, I take myself,” Fields told News 3.

When her vehicle wouldn’t go into gear, she took it to Butler Chrysler Dodge Jeep to get some help.

“This right here, this cost me almost $1,600. This is what I use to put my truck in gear,” she said, holding up a screwdriver.

Fields said she had to pay $576 of the $1,600, with the rest charged to her warranty company.

That money, she says, was “for nothing, because it’s not doing anything.” The only way the vehicle runs is with the screwdriver’s help.

“I have to press the screwdriver down until it hits a button,” she said. “After that, I have to turn it on, then I have to put it in gear, then I quickly have to get my hands off of and try to catch on to my brakes, because if I don’t catch onto the brakes, the car is going to roll.”

Fields has asked the dealership to fix the problem.

“They said: ‘We are waiting on a diagram because there is so much wiring.’ If there is so much wiring why didn’t you tell me from the jump? ‘Ma’am we cant repair that because we don’t work on that,” she wondered.

That’s when Fields turned to News 3 for help.

“I didnt want it to come to this point, but when you are not trying to help me in any way shape or form, I have no other choice,” she said.

News 3 went to the Butler dealership Thursday afternoon. Again, they said that they had to request the diagrams because the extra wiring for her ramp and controls is so complicated.

They called Fields while we were there to set up an appointment, and have promised to get the van working — without a screwdriver — for no extra charge.

News 3 will follow up with Fields to ensure that promise is kept.

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