PARMA, Ohio - James Barron was issued two Cleveland traffic camera tickets for doing 49 mph in a 35, but he wasn't behind the wheel when the violations took place. He was in a coma at the Cleveland Clinic battling for his life.
In July 2012, the Parma man suffered a massive heart attack and slipped into a coma for three weeks. Out-of-town family members flew to Cleveland, and were told Barron wasn't expected to survive.
Barron told NewsChannel5 a wide variety of family members were using his car, without his permission, while he was incapacitated and that's when the violations took place.
"My sister, or my niece, or my brother-in-law were using the car, causing the two speeding tickets," Barron said. "They were using the car daily to visit me at the hospital, and it wasn't clear who was driving my car the days the violations took place."
Once Barron regained consciousness, he was transferred to Kindred Hospital, where he remained bedridden for several additional weeks. That's when he was told about the two $100 speeding tickets.
Barron was unable to make it court to explain his circumstances, so some staff members at Kindred Hospital helped him write a letter from his bedside to the Cleveland Clerk of Courts, explaining his situation.
However, on Oct. 3, the city replied, telling him he had to pay the fine, that he had not presented enough evidence to overturn the tickets.
Weeks later Barron was given notice he had been taken to a collection agency and $120 in late fees were added to the $200 in speeding fines.
"I was unable to go to court cause I was physically unable," Barron said. "So now they just keep harassing me for the money, the collection agency called me again just yesterday."
In fact, Barron just started walking again and was finally cleared to drive, two weeks ago.
The NewsChannel5 Troubleshooter Unit contacted the office of Earle B. Turner, Cleveland Clerk of Courts, about this case. Turner's office responded immediately.
5 On Your Side explained that Barron was in a hospital bed and couldn't make it court to appeal the speeding tickets that were issued while he was in coma. A few hours later, the Cleveland Clerk of Courts agreed to remove the $120 in late fees, but would continue to enforce the original $200 in speeding fines.
"The bottom line response from our office is that if the person who was driving the car will step up and take responsibility, Mr. Barron will not have the burden of paying the fines for the speeding violations," said Clerk of Courts spokesman Obie Shleton.
Barron was pleased to hear the late fees will now be removed, but he said he believes the entire traffic camera system needs to be reevaluated.
"It's just a money grab," Barron said. "It's just show me the money, that's all. It's not about safety, it's money."
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