A heartless crime has left a Pelham Parkway family upset.
Since birth, 18-year-old Sohail Tariq has been stricken by cerebral palsy. Three years ago, Tariq and his family moved to the United States from Pakistan, and his parents were able to purchase him a customized wheelchair to help him cope with his disabilities.
Tariq, along with his parents and two younger siblings, live at 2036 Cruger Avenue. The building shares a basement with 2040 Bronxdale Avenue. While attempting to clean the wheelchair in the basement on Tuesday, June 28, his mother Azra, returned with cleaning supplies only to find the wheelchair gone.
“My wife called me while I was working and I immediately came home. We started asking the neighbors and people on the street if anybody saw anything, but the chair was gone,” said Tariq Masood, Sohail’s father.
According to Masood, the chair cost him approximately $5,000 when it was custom built for his son, who is completely immobile. To order a new chair will take six months, and in the meantime, Masood and his wife must carry their son around their home and hold him when feeding him.
The family filed a police report with the 49th Precinct, but nothing had been found nearly two weeks after the theft.
As word of the stolen wheelchair spread around the community, Councilman Jimmy Vacca became aware of the problem.
Vacca immediately contacted United Cerebral Palsy, to aid Sohail. Although a special fitting is needed for a new chair similar to his old one, UCP will be donating a temporary chair for the youngster.
“Whoever took the wheelchair should be ashamed of themselves. It really defies imagination that someone would actually steal a wheelchair,” Vacca said.
Tariq will be receiving his new wheelchair within the next few days or so, and his family is very grateful.