NIAGARA FALLS, N.Y. (WIVB) – Nefretiri Pugh was born with spinal muscular atrophy and can’t walk, but until now she’s always managed to get around.
Pugh was at her aunt’s house in Niagara Falls Thursday afternoon. The home isn’t wheelchair accessible so it was left on the front lawn, where it was stolen.
Her aunt, Wilma Claar, said, “Now what kind of society do we live in where people steal wheelchairs? Wheelchairs, they’re her legs, they’re her transportation.”
The wheelchair was motorized and customized specifically for Pugh to help her get around her apartment.
Pugh explained, “It’s been a struggle. It’s hard, it’s really hard. It’s like getting dressed and stuff today was hard, I really need my chair back.”
She has a temporary chair, but unlike her motorized chair, the replacement can’t lift her.
“It helps her get into a position where she can help herself because she’s independent, she lives alone. So the wheelchair that she has is specified for her apartment to help her get around,” said Claar.
The family struggled to buy the chair in the first place and they don’t’ believe they can afford the thousands of dollars to replace it. They filed a police report and notified scrap yards in the area, but until it’s found or returned, Pugh will have to rely on others to get around.
“It boils my blood just to think of someone stealing her chair. I can’t believe we have people today that actually does things like that,” said Claar.
The chair is blue and black and neighbors say they saw a white pickup truck in front of the home around the time the chair was stolen.
A fund has been set up to help pay for a new chair. It’s called the “Wheelchair Fund” at the Greater Niagara Center Credit Union.