A South Florida man is outraged about the way a condominium security guard handled his mother's death. He says a parking fee prevented funeral home workers from taking his mother's body away. Residents say the managers at the property are out of control.
Leslie Powers thought it was a joke. His mother's body was lying in the other room and the hearse coming to pick her up wasn't allowed in because the driver didn't have exactly $3.
"This goes beyond any sort of reasonableness, I can't imagine," said Powers. "I mean, all he had to do was at least accommodate them to make the change."
It happened at the Jade Winds condominium in North Miami Beach, where visitors must have exactly $3 to get in with no change or coins provided.
Sylvia Powers was 99 years old and wanted to die in the condo she lived in for the past 45 years. Her son, Leslie Powers, said her wish turned into his nightmare when he called down to the security guard gate Wednesday morning.
"'We won't let anybody pick up your mother's body unless we have the exact change. Three singles and nothing else,'" Leslie Powers said. "I said, 'Well, can't you make an exception? My mother's body is here. It needs to be picked up,' and the answer was no."
The property manager refused to open the office door. The security guard, who turned the hearse away, was in there, too. Both refused to answer Local 10's questions. They wouldn't even talk to residents, who were shocked to learn why Local 10 was there.
"What? OK, this is outrageous. This is beyond comprehension," said resident Xochitl Alvarez.
Local 10 quickly learned this is the latest in a string of what residents call irrational rules and ridiculous moves by property managers at Jade Winds.
"You know, this is like Cuba. They do whatever they want and we can't say anything," said resident Rosario Falcon.
That is why residents are trying to vote the entire condo board out.
"Because she's a coward, she is a coward," said Alvarez. "She's an incompetent individual and she needs to leave."
Real estate attorney Andrew Tarr said condo residents who think their community rules are being changed or administered in violation of the their condominium's bylaws can file a lawsuit or a complaint with the state's Division of Condominiums.
But usually, Tarr says, unhappy residents can speak loudest with their vote.
"Unit owners are not helpless by any means," said Tarr. "If a board member is over reaching, vote them out."
After two hours of waiting, a supervisor from the management company showed up, but didn't exactly apologize for his guard hassling the hearse.
"Just as a human being, do you think the hearse should have been allowed to come pick up the poor man's mother?" asked Local 10's Roger Lohse.
"I really don't know the details of today, I really don't. We're going to investigate it," said Gary Pyott, of First Residential Service.
"That's not a question you can answer without having any sort of facts?" asked Lohse.
"It's an unfortunate circumstance if that were the case, then yes, the vehicle should have been let in," Pyott said.
Sylvia Powers' family spent the rest of the day planning her funeral, never thinking that would be the easiest part of dealing with her death.
In a statement to Local 10, the attorney for the property management company said, "We apologize for what occurred at our security gate. We are actively working on implementing immediate changes so that this never happens again."