MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - A custom-built wheelchair stolen from a 5-year-old girl was recovered Tuesday but chopped up into "a million pieces," her mother said.
The $8,000-chair belongs to Annabelle Hulgan, who has been paralyzed from the waist down since birth by spina bifida. It was stolen Monday from the front yard of her daytime caregiver.
Annabelle's mother, Christen Hulgan, said the chair was found dumped beside a city street with much of its frame disassembled and its pink striped wheels pulled off. Thieves may have planned to sell the chair for scrap metal, she said, and parts of it appeared to have been hacksawed.
"Maybe they had a change of heart," Hulgan said. "I don't know. I would love if that was the reason."
The wheelchair would likely be unsafe if patched back together and getting a new one could take months.
"Her wheelchair is like her legs," Hulgan said. "That is her joy."
Hulgan, a kindergarten teacher, said her 5- and 6-year-old students heard about the theft and were worried about Annabelle.
"We sat down and talked about it, talked about how the things you do have consequences for other people," she said. "They were like, 'Who is that bad that would do that?' These kids have no idea what is bad in the world."
To donate to the Anabelle Wheelchair Account, you can contact Nancy Martin at MIFA by calling 529-4525.