Disabled man's "freedom" stolen

July 9, 2008 3:53:13 PM PDT
Police in Delaware County are on the hunt for a thief who stole a physically challenged man's minivan, and his sense of freedom. Police in Chester have little go on as they try to find the minivan. That's why they need help from our viewers. The van was specially-outfitted for 63-year old Dave Paterson.

"I was sick to my stomach and I was mad," he said.

Paterson couldn't believe it when he came outside Wednesday morning and found his 1992 Plymouth Voyager gone from his parking spot outside the Wallingford Views apartments. To Dave, it's a very special minivan.

"My pride and joy, yeh."

20 years ago, Dave suffered a paralyzing stroke. 10 years ago, he had a heart attack, and a year and a half ago, a staph infection forced doctors to amputate his right leg. Last year, his family bought the minivan and had it specially outfitted so Dave could drive using only one arm and one foot.

"Sounds like a vehicle that wouldn't be everyone else's dream car. But it worked for me. It worked for me. It worked for me."

Dave and his wife, Beverly, used the maroon minivan to run errands, go to the doctor and take their five grandchildren to baseball games.

"I mean it wasn't like it was in the greatest condition or anything, but it got us where we were going," Beverly said.

"It was their world. It just gave, especially dad, a sense of independence," said Danby Paterson, Dave's daughter-in-law.

"That van is his lifeline. That's what he uses to get anywhere and without it he feels stranded. He feels trapped," said Dave's son Dave Paterson.

Dave's minivan has wood panels on the side and Pennsylvania tags for the physically disabled. The tag reads 6596N.

"Yeh, bring it back. I won't even ask no questions. Just park it somewhere where we'll find it," he said.

Dave doesn't have the insurance to cover replacing the vehicle. He hopes whoever took it doesn't ruin the special steering wheel and pedals that make it possible for him to drive. If you see the car, contact Chester police.