‘Just feels fantastic’: Stolen wheelchair recovered at same time victim was being interviewed

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SEATTLE  —  Daniel Gray has been paralyzed from the chest down since 2009.

“The water was too shallow and I ended up diving into Green Lake and broke my neck,” says Gray.

Now, the UW history major, who’s been known to dabble in the local comedy scene, relies on his wheelchair to get around.  Daniel says it’s custom-made and worth roughly $37,000.

He says sometime early Saturday morning it was stolen, after he left it outside a friend's apartment complex Friday night near 92nd and Greenwood Avenue North. Daniel says it wasn’t locked up.

“I was just heartbroken. I felt like such an idiot, how could I have let this happen?"

He shared his story with Q13 News, hoping to find his stolen wheelchair.

“I filed a police report and I called a bunch of pawn shops, just whatever I could think of,” says Daniel.

But what happened during our interview was beyond anything Daniel could have ever imagined.

Q13 News viewers Patrick Elliot and Jacqueline LeClech contacted the station during my interview with Daniel, to say that what appeared to be a very expensive, abandoned wheelchair had turned up in the garage of their apartment complex -- just one mile away from where Daniel’s wheelchair had been stolen.

“We kept checking on it over the next two days and we decided to call channel 13. I’m a faithful Q13 News watcher and so you are the station we called first,” says Jacqueline.

Patrick says his late brother became paralyzed as a teenager, just like Daniel. He and Jacqueline knew this chair meant the world to someone. We tagged along as Daniel’s father, Chris, picked up the wheelchair.

“We are very grateful. How cool is that? To make this whole thing work out and it looks like the chair is fine,” says Chris.

“The thing we wanted to do was get it out of the rain and find its owner. So this has been a wonderful thing,” says Jacqueline.

“It was just a huge bummer in the beginning because who steals a wheelchair? But this just feels fantastic. It’s really awesome. Thank you,” says Daniel.

Daniel also thanked his friends and family who came together to support him, some even donating money, hoping to raise funds to buy him a new ride.