I-Team helps disabled woman get her van back

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by Courtney Zubowski / KHOU 11 News I-Team

khou.com

Posted on December 19, 2013 at 11:17 AM

Life turns on chance. There’s good luck and bad luck.

And no one knows that better than Nicole Montgomery.

Take one in two million. Those were the odds she’d get a disease where a simple bump to her body can cause the muscles in that area to turn to bone.

“Even the littlest bump or bruise can cause a flare up,” she said. “So I become stiff and unable to move.”

So the 20-year-old got a customized handicapped accessible van to get around in, but then came more luck, the bad kind when a car ran a stop sign and plowed into her van.

“He just barreled right into us,” recalled Montgomery. “All I heard was like a big loud boom and crash.”

In the aftermath, her tow truck driver suggested he let her tow the van to Northwest Collision, a repair shop on Pinemont in Garden Oaks.

Her parents’ insurance company paid Northwest Collision $15,000 to make the repairs.

Today, it’s not one, not two, but three months later and the van still isn’t repaired and Nicole’s life circumscribed.

“She’s been unable to attend church. She’s been unable to have a social life,” said her mother, Robin Guerrero. “It’s upsetting trying to keep her spirits up when she can’t get out of the house.”

Her parents say they keep making phone call after phone call to Northwest and get the same answer every time.

“’We’re working on it’,” quotes Guerrero.

The concerned and frustrated mother says she’s heard that statement more times than she can count.

Meanwhile, Nicole has had access to a rental vehicle, but she prefers not to use it because it isn’t customized to fit her wheelchair.

She says it’s a dangerous situation.

“Sometimes my chair slides forward so it makes me feel really unsafe,” she said. “I mean I don’t feel like the straps are as strong as the ones in my van so they don’t tie me down.”

So the KHOU 11 News I-Team went to Northwest Collision to get some answers.

We found Nicole’s 2012 Chrysler sitting in the repair shop looking pretty much the way it did right after the accident.

KHOU 11 News: “What’s taking so long?”

Northwest Collision: “It was a pretty big hit.”

KHOU 11 News: “Tell me the timeline. When will they have their car back?”

Northwest Collision: “Probably for Ms. Guerrero, probably next week.”

KHOU 11 News: “Do you know how many times they’ve been told next week?”

Northwest Collision: “I don’t ma’am.”

Manager Lupe Pena blamed the delay on back ordered parts.

KHOU 11 News: “Are you satisfied with the customer service in this case?”

Northwest Collision: “No.”

And Pena admits this isn’t how they typically do business.

“I will tell you from here I will make sure that this vehicle is given back to Ms. Guerrero as fast as possible,” Pena told the KHOU 11 News I-Team.

Because time is everything for Nicole.

Her grandfather in Alabama just had a major stroke. She wants to go there for Christmas, but without her van she can’t travel the distance.

“That van was pretty much everything,” Nicole said.

Late Tuesday, Pena sent the I-Team pictures of the repaired van. He said he finished the work today and Nicole is set to get it back Wednesday.

Pena also told the I-Team that he is going to reimburse the family for their rental car fees.

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