Better Call Behnken: Car dealer gives vehicle to disabled veteran after struggle with insurance companies

HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – Sam Bell only wanted his 20 year-old car repaired. He wanted the car, designed so that he, a paraplegic, can drive with his hands, to be fixed.

It was a pretty reasonable request. His car was hit by a semi-truck in November, when it was parked in his driveway, while Bell slept inside his Riverview mobile home.

It took five months and a Better Call Behnken 8 On Your Side investigation to get an insurance company to reimburse him the nearly $700 he had to pay to get the car to run again. That’s after he spent the holidays stuck at home, because he didn’t have a running car.

Earlier this week, someone who could do something to help out Bell in a big way just happened to be watching News Channel 8 when Bell’s story aired.

Billy Fuccillo, the mega-car dealer known for his outrageous “huge” commercials, reached out to help and gave Bell a car.

Related: Disabled veteran finally compensated for car damaged by semi-truck

Fuccillo said he has a soft spot for veterans, because his father served in the military.

“I always think about what it must have been like,” he said. “So, I just want to say thank you.”

Bell was overwhelmed by the generosity.

“It’s been as much to drink in as coming home the first time from the war,” Bell said. “It makes the whole scene in front of me brighter. All colors are brighter. It’s almost surreal, and it’s really real.”

The car will be redesigned so Bell can drive with his hands.

Bell said he plans to donate his 20-year-old Ford Escort. He volunteers at the Tampa VA and hopes that another veteran who needs a car could use his old one for a while. He recently spent nearly $700 to get the car repaired enough to drive again.


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