Paralyzed AZ teen pleads for return of wheelchair, it was stolen while taking her driving test

Posted at 5:28 PM, Feb 26, 2019
and last updated 2019-02-26 22:36:36-05

PHOENIX, AZ (KPHO — Police are looking for two women they say stole the wheelchair of a paralyzed teen.

The 19-year-old says her chair gives her a sense of independence and more.

At 19-years old, Josie Siegel is learning to drive again.

"It's totally different learning to drive with your hands than with your feet. It's a huge goal, especially after being in the accident," said Siegel.

Two years ago, she was in a bad car wreck and was paralyzed from the chest down.

"I shattered my eye socket, broke my cheekbone, displaced the discs in my neck, broke my sternum," said Siegel.

She's been in a wheelchair ever since.

"It's my sense of independence, being in this situation where I can't be fully independent. The wheelchair is like my legs. It's my mobility," said Siegel.

Last Friday, she went to take her driving test and left her chair, with a purple frame, outside the Tempe Testing Facility.

When they came back it had been stolen.

"That chair is what I rolled across the stage and got my diploma in, I turned 18 in that chair. I got my first tattoo in that chair. I went on my first road trip in that chair. So, it has more sentimental value than just a regular wheelchair," said Siegel.

Tempe police released photos of the two women who took it. You can see one has bright red hair.

Josie is begging them to give it back, no questions asked.

"I don't want them to feel shamed or badly about what they've done. I just want them to return it," said Siegel.

Josie was able to get a temporary replacement chair, but she says her new one does not fit her and is very uncomfortable.

The teen has started an online fundraiser to help pay for a new one in case the original chair is never returned.