Traverse City Record-Eagle

Newsmakers 2011

December 28, 2011

Newsmakers: Van crasher awaits court

Incident 'was never about the people'

TRAVERSE CITY — Doug McCallum would like to call the Traverse City Social Security office and apologize to employees there, but that will have to wait until after his court date.

McCallum crashed his van through the federal office's front doors over the July 4 weekend "in a fit of rage" over repeated disability claim denials. He faces two felony charges for malicious destruction of property, each punishable by up to five years in prison.

"I want them to know this was not an attack on the people," McCallum said. "It was never about the people."

McCallum, 47, told the Record-Eagle in July he "just lost it" when he drove his van over the Social Security office sign on Munson Avenue, then twice backed his van through the closed building's entrance. At the time McCallum said a back injury prevented him from working and he was destitute after Social Security officials for six years denied his claims for disability payments.

"Everyone told me I qualified for the benefits, it was just a matter of when," McCallum said.

The when arrived before summer's end, when McCallum received notification his claim finally had been approved.

Robert Simpson, district manager for the Social Security Administration, declined to comment. Simpson referred questions to Doug Nguyen, deputy regional communications director of the Social Security Administration in Chicago. Nguyen said he didn't know anything about the incident and couldn't answer any questions.

Traverse City attorney Janet Mistele filed a notice of an insanity defense for McCallum, and his trial was delayed while he was evaluated by the state's center for forensic psychiatry regarding criminal responsibility.

He has a pretrial hearing scheduled for Jan. 9 in 13th Circuit Court.

"Everyone's got a price to pay for their actions," McCallum said. "It's in God's hands and the court's hands now and whatever they decide is good with me. It will be right."

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