Family told to pay for parking ticket they accidentally received -

Family told to pay for parking ticket they accidentally received

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ST. LOUIS ( -- No one likes to come back to their car and see a parking ticket tucked under the wiper. But the family in this story never got a ticket. They only got a letter ordering them to pay up for parking illegally in a place they weren't at to begin with.

“It's just wrong on all levels,” said Kathy Fugate. Back in December, Kathy Fugate's husband received a weird letter. Unofficial looking and complete with typos, she first thought it was a scam. Come to find out, it was a violation notice from St Louis County for parking illegally in a handicap zone.

Right away that was a red flag for the Fugates who have legitimate blue tags. “That is so frustrating to us, because we have a handicapped child,” Fugate said, but the letter contained very little information about the supposed ticket, only instructing the Fugate's to pay $50.

“I called and asked if they could send me a copy of the ticket, and they said 'no,'” she said. 

News 4 obtained a copy. The ticket was written on November 17th at the Terminal Two Garage at Lambert Airport.

“It was at the airport and no one in our family has been to the airport in years,” Fugate said. But what's most strange of all? The car in question: a 2000 Ford Fusion. Ford didn't even make a Fusion until 2006!

“The impression I have been getting is that no one cares about this,” Fugate said. Kathy was told they had only two options: pay up or spend hours in traffic court. “It's the principle,” she said.

After being passed around, News 4 finally spoke with a representative of the airport, speaking for airport police. They declined to talk on camera, but told us there was a data entry problem with the license plate.

It all comes down to a little marking on the ticket. It looks like an “X.” The culprit's plate likely had a "Y" on it instead. Airport Police apparently told prosecutors about the clerical mistake back in November. But county officials says they only became aware of the error more recently.

Prosecutors dismissed the ticket on January 12th, the same day News 4 started making calls. “I apologize to the family for what they have had to suffer through,” said County Counselor Peter Krane. Krane tells us one possible solution is on its way.

The county will soon be launching a new online system where people will have better access to information about their violations. Not all municipalities are involved yet, but they're looking to grow. “Hopefully this will be one of the avenues to reduce the frustrations inherent in the system,” Krane said.

“It seems so simple to me,” Fugate said. Fugate says she only wants others to avoid the same headache. 

Krane says something like this is very rare. So what about the person who actually parked illegally? We’re told that, within the last week, the ticket has been re-issued to the true culprit. 

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