Taylorsville man who uses electronic wheelchair pleads with thieves to return it

Posted at 5:49 PM, Nov 09, 2016
and last updated 2016-11-09 19:49:41-05

TAYLORSVILLE – A Taylorsville man is at a loss after someone stole his electronic wheelchair and independence.

Joseph Olson and his family just returned from out of town Sunday evening, so he charged his electronic wheelchair in his carport. But when he woke up the next morning, it was gone.

“I'm really at a loss at why someone would take it," he said.

Olson feels helpless. The 8th grade history teacher must now use a back-up electronic wheelchair.

“There are bungie cords on the side, duct tape on the leg rest a little bit," he said.

He’s been forced to pull it out because his new, custom-made wheelchair was stolen a few days ago.

“Our house is really tucked back into the corner," Olson said. "There's a wall, there's no way out. It's a dead end street."

Olson suffers from a rare congenital condition called Arthrogryposis multiplex congenital.

“It's where muscles never fully develop," Olson said. "I have a difficulty moving my arms and legs the way that most people do."

He relies on the device for everything.

“This chair for me is my legs," Olson said. "It's my freedom. It's my mobility. It's how I'm able to do the things that I do.”

Without it, getting around with his family is difficult.

“I take it up to the zoo, I got a little pack on my chest that I can put my daughter in, and we'll pal around the zoo,” Olson said.

He’s also unable to coach soccer.

“This is how I get out into the field," he said. "You take the chair away and I just don't have that ability.”

It will cost him $25,000 to $30,000 to replace the wheelchair. He’s filed a police report, but so far there are no leads.

More than anything, he just wants the person responsible to do the right thing and return it.

“Really in all honesty, I'm not even interested in filing charges or anything, I just need my mobility, I just need my independence back, which is really what they took,” Olson said.

Joseph’s friends have set up this GoFundMe page to assist.

If you have any information about his stolen electronic wheelchair, call Unified Police at 801-743-7000.