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Wheelchair stolen from teen with disability

(Mark Wetzel/KSL-TV)


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KEARNS — A custom wheelchair belonging to a Kearns teen was stolen early Friday morning while its owner was sleeping.

The wheelchair, made specifically for 16-year-old Tyson Howick, was taken while he was asleep from its storage location in his carport. It costs almost $15,000, is black and blue with headlights and yellow blinkers on it.

Howick was born with a neurological disability, one that requires this specific type of customized wheelchair to move around effectively. His mother, Melanie Hansen, feels those who took it must not fully grasp its importance to her son.

“I’m sure whoever took the wheelchair is struggling with whatever they’re struggling with,” Hansen said. “But they don’t understand. That’s his legs, basically.”

In addition to the necessary tasks for which it was made, Howick’s wheelchair also boasts extras to help add to his quality of life.

“The wheelchair shop surprised him and added headlights and blinkers so it was more like a car, so that chair is really special,” said Hansen.


I'm sure whoever took the wheelchair is struggling with whatever they're struggling with. But they don't understand. That's his legs, basically.

–Melanie Hansen, mother of Tyson Howick


Not only will the theft limit Howick’s ability to move around in basic ways, but it may also hinder his plans to go to a March dance at Kearns High, where he’s a sophomore.

“I’m trying to go to the March dance, junior prom, and I can't go anywhere until I can get my chair back,” Howick said.

In the past, the family had typically taken precautions to prevent such a theft, chaining the wheelchair up within the carport. But the chain they used was rusty and they hadn’t yet had a chance to replace it. Despite this, they assumed there would be no issues, as they’ve lived in the same place for 12 years and say everyone in the area knew exactly to whom the chair belonged.

The family has put up flyers, and the story has also begun to circulate on social media. It’s been shared by 5,000 people on Facebook already, with thousands of responses.

They said they just want the wheelchair returned — no questions asked. Call the Kearns Police Department with any tips.

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Heather Simonsen

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