MESA, Ariz. - A Mesa man’s wheelchair has been found and returned by a Good Samaritan after it was stolen while he was visiting a friend.
Austin Cover was distraught after his mobility was taken away. He was visiting a friend in an apartment complex in the Superstitions Springs area on Jan. 4 when he realized his specialized wheelchair was stolen.
"I’m sad," said Cover. "I miss my legs. It’s my pride. It’s my joy."
"It’s heartbreaking to think that such a despicable act could happen to somebody," said Austin's mother, Julieanne Cover. "That is just a vital part of his quality of life that somebody would just take that."
"His friend lives in the second story, so he has to park his wheelchair outside without being able to take it inside, and so he came out to leave his friend's house, and noticed that it was gone," said Julieanne.
After his story aired on FOX 10, a viewer reached out on Friday morning, saying that he found a wheelchair on his way to work that looked identical to Austin's.
The Good Samaritan contacted police as well and put the wheelchair away for safekeeping. A short time later, Austin and his dad were able to pick it up - a huge relief for the family.
Video shows him happily punching the air after seeing his treasured wheelchair: "Yes! Yes!"
"This chair means a lot to him and each chair is fitted to the person that owns it, so having the one back that he has...is the most important," said his father, Dustin Cover. "We're just gracious that there is people...willing to do the right thing, see something, say something...[it] restores our belief in humanity."
Austin, 30, was born with a heart defect. During his second open heart surgery, he suffered a stroke. Since then, Austin has dealt with numerous challenges.
"Austin spent the last 30 years of his life working very hard, being independent and being able to do the limited walking and being able to re-eat again," said Austin's father, Dustin Cover. "All the things we all take for granted each and every day."
Thanks to his wheelchair, Austin has been able to get that sense of independence back.