Blount County woman asks for return of stolen wheelchair

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TOWNSEND, Tenn. (WATE)- Sharon Hazard never thought she would be making flyers or posting on Facebook, asking for the return of her metallic blue wheelchair.

On Monday, that’s exactly what Hazard did while trapped at home without her traveling wheelchair.

Hazard had been in a wheelchair for 33 years because of Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, a rare disease affecting tissue connectivity, and platelet dysfunction.

She uses a motorized wheelchair at home and uses her other wheelchair for everywhere else.

Photo courtesy of Sharon Hazard. Picture shows Sharon in the missing wheelchair.

“People don’t understand how important this wheelchair is to me,” Hazard said. “It’s my freedom, it’s my life. It’s my every move I make. Every move I make is in a wheelchair.”

On Sunday, Hazard and her husband went to Townsend to go to the store.

After picking up some medicine for Sharon, the couple decided to stop by the Laserwash on Lamar Alexander Parkway, before driving back to their home just outside of Wears Valley.

Hazard said her husband typically removes the leg lifts on her wheelchair, puts them inside the truck, and straps down the rest of the chair in the truck bed.

They didn’t want to get the chair wet, so Hazard’s husband unhooked the chair and placed it outside the self-wash unit they were using.

Hazard stayed in the truck.

About 30 minutes later, her husband went to grab the wheelchair and it was gone.

“I can’t even go to the doctor’s tomorrow because I have no way to get there,” Hazard said. “It’s devastating. It’s life-altering.”

Surveillance video from the laundromat, which is connected to the car wash, showed an older model (similar to a 2000) of a silver Nissan Pathfinder pulling into a unit.

Two minutes later, the wheelchair disappeared, the face of the suspect never clearly visible. The vehicle left a few minutes later.

Picture of surveillance video of the vehicle that entered the unit just before the wheelchair was taken.

The chair can’t be easily replaced. Hazard said it was custom-made to fit the contortions of her body.

She paid more than $7,000 four years ago for the chair, and she said it’s the best traveling chair she’s ever had.

“It has a special, adapted seating system that’s made form-fitted to me and my spine, and a special cushion so I don’t get sores on my butt,” Hazard said.

The chair is also equipped with leg lifts. Hazard has no knee in her left leg, so it can’t bend.

The leg lifts are the only parts of the chair she has.

“The chair is really useless to anybody but me. It’s a nice chair, but it’s not going to do anybody any good,” Hazard said.

Hazard explained that she couldn’t use her motorized wheelchair because she can’t transport it.

She owns a minivan specifically made to allow her to leave her home by herself.

She could drive her motorized wheelchair into the van and drive the van herself. But, her and her husband have been trying to fix the van for two years after she went into cardiac arrest while driving, and crashed.

It could take months to replace Hazard’s traveling chair.

“I’m sitting here thinking, ‘Months. Months of not leaving your house,’ ” Hazard said.

Hazard said she would’ve helped raise money for a wheelchair, if that’s what the person needed.

Reward flyer created by Sharon Hazard.

Her family is offering a $500 reward for the return of it, no questions asked.

“I need my chair back,” Hazard cried. “I just want my chair back. I’ll give you $500. I don’t even care if you stole it.

“I’ll give you $500, just give me my chair back. It’s that important to me.”

The Blount County Sheriff’s Office is investigating this case.

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