Long-Time White House Plumber Paralyzed

By Erika Gonzalez
|  Thursday, Dec 5, 2013  |  Updated 9:28 AM CDT
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A man who worked for more than 30 years as a plumber at the White House was paralyzed last year. Erika Gonzalez spoke to him about his future plans.

Erika Gonzalez

A man who worked for more than 30 years as a plumber at the White House was paralyzed last year. Erika Gonzalez spoke to him about his future plans.

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A man who worked more than 30 years as a White House plumber was left paralyzed and jobless after a car accident in Maryland.

"This isn't what you call the golden years," said James Plakas, whose career at the White House Plumbing Shop was cut short last year just a few months before the assistant foreman qualified for full retirement benefits.

A driver experiencing a medical emergency caused the 8-car pile-up on Rockville Pike, Montgomery County police said, leaving Plakas with severe injuries that left him a quadriplegic.

"I was making good money and I had a good crew," Plakas said. "I don't remember much [from the accident] until people showed me pictures."

The accident didn't wipe away Plakas' strong spirit. With a trembling voice, he told News4, "I hope some day I will [walk again], but it would have to be a miracle."

The state's attorney's office decided not to press charges against the driver responsible for the accident, so Plakas took matters into his own hands by hiring a lawyer and suing for damages.

"He was a quarter, three months short, of a requirement for him to receive social security benefits, full benefits," Plakas' lawyer Rene Sandler told News4.

Plakas, who began working at the White House when Jimmy Carter was president, said the most disappointing part of his story is not finishing serving under the nation's first African American president.

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