AURORA, Colo. – The family of a woman with special needs said criminals stole their wheelchair accessible van, robbing the woman of her freedom to explore the community and now her family can’t afford to replace the vehicle.
Carrie Ricard said the 1997 van was parked outside their Aurora home overnight, but when she woke up, it was gone.
“I’m just devastated. I’ve been devastated all day,” said Ricard.
Ricard’s sister Bobbi Jo Dunbar has unique special needs. The van was specifically designed to fit Bobbi Jo’s large wheel chair which allows her to remain horizontal at all times.
“Finding the right equipment for her is very tricky. It’s incredibly specialized stuff. I can’t look on craigslist and find a replacement for any of the things that we have,” said Ricard.
Ricard said Bobbi Jo’s favorite thing to do is go on rides. Thanks to the specialized van, she’s traveled to 49 out of the 50 states. Each week, her family takes her out of the home to the pet store, the mall, the grocery store, any chance to give Bobbi Jo opportunities to explore.
“It’s a huge part of her quality of like and she’s had enough. She’s had enough struggle in her life. She really doesn’t need that. One more piece where she is just even more trapped. You can imagine how it feels to just be trapped,” said Ricard.
Aurora police are investigating but at this point, do not have any leads. Ricard said it’s a 1997 van with 150,000 miles on it. The insurance company will only cover the cost of the car, but not any of the specialized equipment the family installed. Plus, she has a high deductible.
“I think it’s going to be a total wash,” said Ricard.
Her family paid to outfit the van with specialized equipment initially, because Ricard said medicaid only covers the basics like Bobbi Jo’s oxygen and wheelchair. She said it will cost $50,000 to replace the stole van and install the equipment. If they use a van they…