Update: Columbus voids parking ticket written to veteran on deat - WRBL

Update: Columbus voids parking ticket written to veteran on deathbed

Posted: Updated:
Clevelin Clay, Sr., of Columbus Ga., was a Vietnam veteran. Clevelin Clay, Sr., of Columbus Ga., was a Vietnam veteran.
Clevelin Clay, whose car was ticketed for being abandoned, died minutes after WRBL News 3 interviewed his family Monday. Clevelin Clay, whose car was ticketed for being abandoned, died minutes after WRBL News 3 interviewed his family Monday.
COLUMBUS, Ga. -

The City of Columbus has voided a parking ticket written to a Vietnam veteran who was spending his last days in hospice, the man's family confirms to WRBL News 3.

Clevelin Clay, Sr., of Columbus, Ga., was always a fighter, serving the country for more than 30 years, his family says. At the end of his battle with cancer, his children were outraged something as trivial as a parking ticket got in the way of their goodbyes.

Clay checked into hospice several weeks ago, when side effects from pancreatic cancer became too much. His wife was by his side everyday, but Thursday when she came home to freshen up, she saw a ticket on his car parked in front of their home.

The $20 ticket was written for "overtime parking." Georgia law states any car left on a public street for more than five consecutive days, and that appears to an officer that the driver will not be coming back to move it, is considered abandoned.

"It's the principle of the whole thing," said Clevelin, Jr., "and we felt the same way before my mom would just pay the ticket. There's no guilt to admit to, to pay the ticket."

Police told the family a neighbor complained about the car.

Clevelin, Jr. said of a police lieutenant, "He didn't care who we called. We could call the mayor, the chief of police. There's nothing we could do about it. The only way we could fight it is if my dad went to recorders court to fight this parking ticket, and so we should just basically take it."

His sister Sophia Mack added, "The family couldn't fight it, he actually had to be present to fight it."

Neighbor Nelson Sanderlin saw the officer writing the ticket on April 28, and tried to explain Clay's condition, but that did not help. He recalled, "I said, 'but he's in the hospital. He hasn't been able to do it because he's been in the hospital. He's terminally ill, and his wife doesn't mess with the car at all.' and the police officer gave me just a smug look, and threw his hand up in the air, and went back to the car and pulled off."

Clay bought the car when he and his wife got married, and kept it for sentimental value, taking the kids on fishing trips and camping, but when he got sick and everyone gathered to say their goodbyes, the driveway was filled and there was nowhere else to park.

"This is a complete slap in the face," said Clevelin, Jr. through tears. "We come from a lot of pride. We're a big family. My dad fought for his country over 30 years. He fought for people who couldn't fight for themselves, and that's what he taught us. Right now, my dad, he can't fight for himself, so we're fighting for him. He's done enough fighting for what's right. It's not the amount of the ticket. It's for what's right."

Clay passed away just minutes after WRBL spoke with his children Monday.

METRA parking enforcement officials told WRBL News 3 Monday they cannot drop or void the ticket until they get notice from the police department. On Thursday, Columbus Mayor Teresa Tomlinson told WRBL News 3's Jessi Mitchell the ticket had been voided because of "physical impossibility to comply."

Jessi Mitchell

Jessi joined the WRBL news team in October 2012 after working as a freelance production assistant for MTV Networks in Los Angeles.
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