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Call 11 For Action: Local Limo Investigation - Who's keeping them safe?

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Jenna Lee gets to the bottom of this investigation Jenna Lee gets to the bottom of this investigation
(Toledo News Now) -

For nearly 30 years, John Childers of Childers Limousine Service has been providing transportation to the local area. The family man's fleet includes buses, vans, town cars and limos. 

 
It's been business as usual up until two years ago when the city of Toledo stopped performing inspections on his cars and limos seating fewer than 16 passengers. 
 
In fact, Childers called the city more than 30 times and left messages requesting the $100 inspection and issuance of a new set of permits. When WTOL interviewed him, he showed us the expired 2012 permits. 

Smiley face

"There's nobody monitoring. There's no regulations or rules any longer in the city for limo owners," said Childers. 
 
The majority of his fleet is made up of vehicles seating more than 16 passengers, they're inspected by the Ohio State Highway Patrol and regulated by the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio. However, the remaining eight vehicles on his lot are required to have a safety check performed every year by the city. But that's not happening. To ensure all of Childers' vehicles are safe for travel, he's added a full-time auto mechanic to his payroll. 
 
Earlier this week, Jenna Lee took his concerns to the Director of Finance, George Sarantou. His department oversees the Taxicab Board of Review -- an arm of the board is responsible for carrying out the inspections. During the interview, Lee showed Sarantou the limo owner's expired permits. 
 
"I'll take his word for it - but those inspections are required. If they're not happening, that's an issue the Taxicab Board of Review needs to take up," said Sarantou. 
 
Two days later, Lee met with Sarantou for a second interview. He confirmed the inspections on local limos were not being carried out. 

 

Smiley face

 
"I talked to the police department to find out if indeed that was accurate, that limousine companies such as Childers had not been inspected for their vehicles, and absolutely that was the case."
 
But why? It turns out that only one person is in charge of inspecting Toledo's taxicabs and limousines seating 8 to 15 passengers. 
 
"They hadn't been inspected because we just don't have enough people working on that." 
 
From their initial interview on Monday to their second interview on Wednesday, the city assigned an additional officer to manage the workload. 
 
But still, Childers explains the inspections that were being done two years ago by the city fell short, in his opinion. 
 
"Honk the horn, turn the headlights on and that's pretty much about it. My inspection's over." 
 
During past inspections, Childers told Lee that the inspector never started the car, never checked the tires, never checked the brakes, never even popped the hood. 
 
Sarantou tells Lee that the 'city must adhere to what the law requires and a thorough maintenance inspection is absolutely necessary.'
 
Moving forward, Childers hopes all area limos are soon operating with the proper permit and insurance, courtesy of a city inspection. 
 
"I do want to see safety and I do want to see things done the right way." 
 
On Friday morning (5/2), an officer of the Toledo Police department is scheduled to perform an inspection on Childers eight limos, and issue new permits. 
 
WTOL's cameras will be there. 

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