People: Scooter theft leaves amputee stranded




Scooter theft leaves amputee stranded

When someone stole Steve Orchard’s mobility scooter last week, they also took away his independence

By Michael Purvis

Updated 21 days ago

Steve Orchard’s life changed for the better three years ago, when he took delivery of a top-of-the line electric mobility scooter.

He did his own shopping, he went with his daughter on walks to the park. He could leave his home on his own.

This week, some unthinking thief took all that away.

“I couldn’t believe it,” said Orchard, 54.

Orchard said he had gone out on the scooter for pizza at nearby Aurora’s West Side on the night of the theft, March 1. He usually locks the battery-powered vehicle safely in the garage, but this time, when he returned, he went inside with his daughter to eat a couple of hot slices.

When Orchard went outside a short time later, around 7 p.m., all he found were boot prints and the tracks his scooter left in the driveway. The tracks led to the road’s dry pavement and, presumably, out of his quiet neighbourhood.

The theft has left Orchard dismayed and perplexed at the motive for the crime.

“What’s there to say? Would somebody steal somebody’s wheelchair?” said Orchard.

Orchard lost part of his leg in 1977 in an industrial accident at the pulp and paper mill where he worked in The Pas, Man.

He was 19 then, and it’s an incident that permanently altered the course of his life.

“I’m being treated for post-traumatic stress over it, so it’s hard for me to talk about,” said Orchard.

Numerous surgeries over the years have led to what’s called complex regional pain syndrome – a situation that means, for Orchard, using a prosthetic would be unbearably painful. He used to get around on crutches, but that took its toll on his shoulders and these days he can only travel short distances.

Because of that, the Workers Compensation Board of Manitoba paid for the scooter. It’s a durable high-end model — a blue Fortress 2000 — with four-wheel drive, which means Orchard isn’t confined to sidewalks and can get around in the winter. It is also equipped with a board that allows him to put his leg up while he’s riding.

Having it taken away has made Orchard’s life exceedingly difficult, and with no specific insurance on the scooter — he couldn’t afford it — he worries he won’t be able to get another one.

“I can’t play sports, I can’t play with my daughter. At least if I have that scooter, I can go places,” said Orchard.

Orchard reported the theft to police and he said there is some hope it will be returned. He said officers told him bulky items like this do sometimes turn up.

But it has been a week now, and Orchard said he is getting worried. He said he hopes someone saw the scooter or knows something and will report it to police.

“I mean, somebody must have seen something somewhere,” he said.


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