Passersby grab unattended equipment
ENGLEWOOD — William “Doc” Williams spent his entire life giving to others as an osteopathic physician and surgeon for more than 57 years, so he doesn’t know why thieves would steal his motorized wheelchair.
“I don’t dislike them, but there is a better way to make a living,” Williams said. “I’m not angry, but disappointed. It’s sad.”
Williams suffers from a form of spinal stenosis, a condition that, combined with years of wear on his back from age and past injuries, left him struggling to be mobile.
“It’s hard to get around,” Williams said. “I like to get out and have some fresh air. The chair is a means to get around.”
Williams and his daughter, Teri Hagerty, reported the chair stolen between 1 p.m. to 1:45 p.m. Monday, according to a Charlotte County Sheriff’s report. Hagerty, who has back problems from a fractured vertebra and a pinched nerve, was using the chair Monday to take her dog for a walk when the batteries died on the corner of Edmonton and Euston avenues. She called her neighbor, Roxanne Ramsey, whose son-in-law gave Hagerty a ride home.
Ramsey, a grandmother, said her daughter, who didn’t want to be identified, was preparing to take her son to the doctor when she saw a white, two-door pickup with three white males slow down near the chair. She said her daughter described the driver as 35 to 40 years old with dark short hair, and the two younger passengers in their 30s, one with light-blond hair and the other with dark blond hair. Ramsey’s daughter reportedly did not see the theft occur. Williams said he’s been using an assortment of walking aids over the past five years stemming from his last back surgery.
“Doctors are terrible patients,” he said. “I put off surgery for the longest time.” Williams said he tried to not let his physical limitations stop him from working. “I’ve been crippled for a long time,” he said. “When I worked in nursing homes, the nurses would have to wheel me in so I can treat patients.”
Williams’ deteriorating back problems forced him to retire. He’s been using the chair for more than two years.
Hagerty said they called the homeowners insurance company to see if the theft is covered on their policy.
“The irony is that as an osteopathic physician and surgeon for 57 years,” Hagerty said. “he’s been helping others getting chairs, but now he needs one.” Hagerty said the Golden Technologies Compass motorized wheelchair was valued at $6,000.
“This feels like a violation,” Williams said. “Those chairs cost a lot of money. Taking a device away from a handicapped person, that’s a bit much.”
Ramsey said the officer told her residents have seen men in a white truck around the neighborhood asking residents about performing landscaping jobs and not following through.
Anyone with information is asked to call CCSO at 941-639-2101 or Crime Stoppers at 800-780-TIPS (8477).