News

Maple Ridge man waits two months for help with wheelchair

Albert McFadden has been housebound since his electronic wheelchair was hit by a car in December. - Colleen Flanagan/The News
Albert McFadden has been housebound since his electronic wheelchair was hit by a car in December.
— image credit: Colleen Flanagan/The News

A Maple Ridge man whose wheelchair was crushed by a car in December has been left stranded for the past two months because no one would replace it.

After watching his grandsons perform in a Christmas concert, Albert McFadden was heading home when his motorized wheelchair suddenly gave out while crossing the intersection Lougheed Highway at Laity Street, around 5:30 p.m. on Dec. 12.

With the crossing light still on, Albert got out of the chair and began to push it across the street, helped halfway by a driver who stopped at the same intersection.

By then the north and south traffic lights turned green. The man who was helping Albert checked for ongoing vehicles, and the pair continued to push his wheelchair off the road when it was hit by one.

“It came out of nowhere,” said Albert’s wife, Tami.

The car struck Albert and tossed his wheelchair several metres. Albert, who has a steel-rod in one of his arms and hip problems from a previous accident, was left badly bruised. He sustained only an injured neck.

His wheelchair, however, was damaged beyond repair.

Since the accident, Albert has been caught in a web of bureaucracy, without a replacement for his motorized wheelchair.

Because he was involved in a car accident, the Ministry of Health indicated it would not pay for a new one.

Tami said the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia told them Albert was 50 per cent to blame for the crash and because the wheelchair was outdated, insurance would only cover $1,500 towards a replacement.

A new customized chair would cost about $16,000.

For the past two months, the family has been seeking help to get Albert a new chair.

“He needs a new chair, like yesterday, not six months from now,” said Tami.

“That’s his lifeline.”

Before it was destroyed, the motorized wheelchair was Albert’s transportation.

“He went everywhere in it,” she says.

Albert took his grandsons to the park, the two-year-old seated on his lap. He’d often visit his daughter, Pamela Galvez, who lives six blocks away.

“He was never home,” said Tami.

Since the crash, however, Albert has been trapped inside. Tami is unable to push him around in an non-motorized wheelchair, so his only outings have been daily trips to Tim Horton’s, where he’s forced to stay in the car.

Even Albert’s occupational therapist tried to push the ministry for some sort of solution to no avail – until Thursday.

After being contacted by media, ICBC indicated it would pay the full amount for a replacement.

“Thanks for bringing this to our attention,” said Adam Grossman of ICBC.

“It was our understanding that the replacement wheelchair was being paid for through another authority, with a financial contribution from ICBC. This does not seem to have happened and if another authority is not going to pay, then we have told Mr. McFadden’s legal counsel that we will pay for the replacement wheelchair. We will continue to look into this, but all that’s important to us now is that Mr. McFadden gets his replacement wheelchair immediately.”

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