Norfolk man pleads for return of his stolen wheelchair

Posted at 6:49 PM, Apr 19, 2013
and last updated 2013-04-20 11:09:56-04

Norfolk, Va. - A Norfolk man is stranded after his wheelchair is stolen. Now he has to rely on others to get around and insurance says it could take up to a year to replace it.

Five years ago, Darren Johnsonbaugh’s life drastically changed when he was accidentally shot in the back.

“It went through T1 and T2 of my spinal cord, paralyzed me from the chest down,” he says.

Since then, he’s learned to adjust, able to get around on his own in an electric wheelchair – until a week and a half ago when it was stolen.

“Now I`m fully dependent on someone else,” he says.

The wheelchair was taken from an alley next to his house in Ghent.

Since there’s no ramp to get inside, it’s where he kept it while at home, transferring into the smaller wheelchair he’s in now.

“It ain`t easy to get around, especially as beat up as this chair is,” he says.

With his electric wheelchair he was able to either take the bus or get on the Tide to get around town, but now he`s forced to rely on family or friends to get pretty much anywhere.

“That was my main source of transportation for my doctor`s appointments and everything,” he says.

He’s filed a police report and called his insurance company, but it’s looking like it could take a while to see a new chair.

“My insurance company told me that they`ll replace it but when I contacted the wheelchair company, the wheelchair company told me that I`d have to go back through physical therapy, have to redo the evaluation and last time I did it, it took ‘em a year just to get me the chair,” he says.

So in the meantime, he’s taking action, trying to find it himself.

“We’ve got flyers all over the place. We’ve been constantly checking Craigslist,” he says.

So far, there’s been no sign of the chair.

Now, he’s just hoping the person who took it has a change of heart.

“Bring it back, I don`t care what kind of damage it`s in, I can fix it, just drop it off,” he says.