STOLEN wheelchairs recovered

Monday, August 20th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

The search for the stolen wheelchairs is over. Tulsa Count Sheriff's deputies found the wheelchairs in a ditch on Friday. They took them to the property room, filled out the paperwork and then left for the weekend. Earlier Monday, officials realized they were right under their noses.

The wheelchairs were taken from a family home last Wednesday, from a little girl who uses them to get around.

Here's what happened. Wanda and Bill Vanderpool take care of twin granddaughters; Candy and Courtney, both have autistic features. Courtney is totally dependent on others, her wheelchair is her only way of getting around. She just got her new custom-made, $3,000 chair about a year ago, now it and her back-up chair are both gone, stolen from the family's back porch. Wanda Vanderpool, Grandmother: "We had two of them sitting out here. I sent Grandpa out to get it so we could get ready for school and he said they weren't here. We couldn't believe it, they were gone." Bill Vanderpool, Grandfather: "We went to get them and they were gone. We looked all around and she said what should we do and I said, I guess we best call the Sheriff."

The Vanderpool's had kept the two wheelchairs right next to the grill all summer long, they use the chair every time they take Courtney anywhere outside the house. Now, they must carry her everywhere. Chief Deputy Brian Edwards, "Somebody had to know they were there, they're not visible from the street." Right now, they have no suspects in the case. In the meantime, the Vanderpools are working twice as hard to take care of their granddaughter.

Wanda Vanderpool: "I just could not believe anyone would steal a crippled child's wheelchair. It just made me sad to think someone could do that." The Vander pools live West of Sand Springs.