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Cleveland couple deals with $30,000 in home damage due to high-speed police chase

Couple reports city won't help with repair costs
CLE couple deals with $30K in home damage due to police chase
Posted at 10:20 PM, Oct 26, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-27 14:57:41-04

CLEVELAND — Barbara Fulker and James Gavin of Cleveland feel lucky to be alive, after a suspect van plowed into their home during a Cleveland police chase in July 2019, the couple is now left with $30,000 in repairs.

The senior couple told News 5 they are living on a fixed income, couldn't afford homeowners insurance, and so far the City of Cleveland has told them it's not responsible for helping with repair costs due to "sovereign immunity," which absolves the city of liability in situations involving emergency services like police, fire or EMS.

To make matter worse, the couple said four months after the accident the city issued them a citation, fine, and court hearing for the unfinished repairs.

CLE couple deals with $30K in home damage due to police chase
CLE couple deals with $30K in home damage due to police chase

The couple said too often they're forced to use a narrow wooden ramp to get into their home.

“It was a van speeding, and they lost control of the van and ran into the house and the steps," Fulker said. “I was very scared and very shocked. I really couldn’t believe it.”

“I called several times and I left so many messages, never got a callback, they won't help us."

“I told them we couldn’t afford to have this fixed, especially not in 30 days, we don’t have that kind of money, we still don’t have it.”

Fulker has now challenged the candidates for the vacant Ward 4 Cleveland city council seat to help them find a solution.

Candidate Deborah Gray told News 5 if she's elected she'll propose legislation that could grant repair assistance to homeowners dealing with police chase-related property damage, by amending what can be covered by the Cleveland Moral Claims Commission.

While candidate Erick Walker told News 5 if he is elected in November, he'll explore a city-based homeowners insurance assistance program for qualifying low-income families and seniors on a fixed income, which could help with these types of damage claims.

News 5 also reached out to the Cleveland Mayor's office about this case and it responded immediately. The city said it's contacted several city departments to see if anything can be done to help the couple repair their home.