LIMA — Worried about liability if a drunk person is injured in his church parking lot, Pastor Darrell Steed decided to take steps to prevent anyone from parking there who is not associated with the church.
That’s been harder than he could imagine as the Fraternal Order of Eagles with it’s big Friday night money drawings is directly across the street.
Friday night the situation came to a head when Steed brought in a tow-truck driver. That prompted off-duty sheriff deputies in uniform to run across Robb Avenue with one approaching him in an aggressive manner, he said.
“They had already come across the street with their minds made up that we were in violation, not the people parked there,” Steed said.
The deputy told the tow driver he could not charge people a fee if the vehicle was not hooked. The tow truck driver apparently did not know that and returned the $35 to a woman he had charged, Steed said.
But what Steed is more upset about was the deputy’s aggressive behavior. Steed said he was just trying to talk to the deputy he did not know.
“The thing that bothered me is the deputy got in my face and he asked who did I think I was,” Steed said. “It was uncalled for.”
Steed said he did not call Sheriff Sam Crish over the deputy’s behavior.
“I’m afraid to,” he said.
Crish said this is the first time he’s heard Steed was upset or having a problem.
“I have received no calls from anybody from the church complaining about any deputies,” he said.
Crish said deputies working the Eagles off duty told people if their car were not hooked they could drive away without paying the tow truck driver.
The jackpot at the Eagles was more than $200,000 prompting hundreds of people to show trying to win. Deputies were very busy handling traffic around the building making it hard to know everything that was going on in the area, Crish said.
“We can’t control people parking in other places. There’s no way of knowing unless somebody approaches and says there are cars in the lot, then we would try to help out,” Crish said.
Steed said deputies should be more concerned about drunken people leaving the Eagles, driving off and possibly hurting someone when they drive drunk, not parking issues on private property.
Steed said he has talked to the people who run the Eagles and the staff has been more than gracious. They even gave him a sign to hang warning anyone who parked at the church they may be towed. On top of that, Eagles warned people not to park at the church, he said.
Steed’s concern about people parking at the church is getting hurt when they are drunk. He said he talked to his insurance agent and was told he or the church could be held responsible if someone was hurt on church property.
Steed also is concerned about people breaking bottles in the church parking lot or tossing beer cans on the pavement.
“I don’t understand why they think I’m going to allow them to come there and bust bottles and leave their beer cans and I have to or my assistance pastor has to clean up the parking lot,” he said.