Virginia family seeks help for deteriorating wheelchair ramp

Published: Oct. 9, 2019 at 4:49 AM EDT
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MONTPELIER, Va. (WWBT) - As a handicapped-accessible ramp rots and crumbles beneath their feet, a Montpelier family who rely on the ramp to enter their home are asking for help.

The current ramp is more than a decade old. The organization that originally built the ramp is no longer in business.

Debra Marchetti said the ramp served them well but over time has become a safety hazard. Marchetti has difficulty climbing stairs, and is worried that the failing ramp will cause even more problems on top the ones she already battles.

“It’s hard to get around being obese and with the knee surgery,” Marchetti said. “If I fall, I won’t be able to get up."

She think it’s a fracture waiting to happen, for her or someone else.

“Going up and down the ramp, there are holes you can fall into," Marchetti said. “I’m scared with friends like the UPS man anybody that delivers, they could fall through. The boards are rotted.”

The family has taken several steps to keep themselves and others from getting hurt. They cover gaping holes with chairs and other items, and even boards so unsuspecting visitors don’t step in the holes.

Marchetti showed numerous spots where the ramp is deteriorating.

“It’s over here creaking. You can hear it getting ready to go. Over here you can feel it," Marchetti said.

Juanita Marchetti, Debra’s mother, is 85 years old and said she and her husband replaced the banister. Her hand was injured twice by splinters while checking on her 65-year-old daughter, who also has a brain injury.

Juanita Marchetti put up a hand-written sign warning people not to use the ramp.

“When I take her out, I put up the sign to keep off," Juanita Marchetti said. "I don’t want anyone getting injured because we haven’t been able to repair the ramp for her.”

The Marchettis still use the ramp themselves, but have learned just where to step and what parts to avoid.

“At my weight, I make sure I step over it," Debra Marchetti said. "I would like it to be taken out and replaced. With my disability, I don’t have the money for it.”

Debra Marchetti has called around and has been unable to find any resources to tear down the old ramp and build a new one.

Anyone who knows someone who may be able to help is encouraged to call NBC12 at (804) 345-1212 or message Diane Walker on Facebook.

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