A French quadruple amputee who swam across the English Channel had his custom-made electric wheelchair stolen in northern France. "They didn't just steal my wheelchair, they stole my independence," Philippe Croizon said.
A French handicapped sportsman famous for his swimming feats expressed anger on Monday after he had his custom-built wheelchair stolen while on holiday last week.
“They didn’t just steal my wheelchair, they stole my independence,” Philippe Croizon, who in 2010 became the first the first quadruple amputee to swim across the English Channel, raged on France Info radio.
“Without my wheelchair, I am nothing. I don’t exist,” Croizon, 45, said.
The sportsman explained that the wheelchair was stolen along with the trailer it was stored in on Thursday outside the home of friends near Dieppe in northern France.
“Keep the trailer, just give me back by my wheelchair,” he pleaded.
The all-terrain machine cost over 20,000 euros, a sum Croizon said he raised over a year with the help of friends. He said France’s state healthcare system only reimbursed up to 3,000 euros for a wheelchair.
Croizon said his insurance company claimed that the trailer and its contents were only insured when it was in motion – not parked, as it had been at the time of the theft.
On his Twitter account, the handicapped swimmer noted that he was taking advantage of the media exposure to draw attention to the hardship of people with disabilities in France.
He also said he had received a phone call from French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault, who promised support.
A former metal-worker, Croizon had all four limbs amputated in 1994 following an accident in which he received a massive electric shock.
He has since performed a series of feats aided by flippers, including swimming the Channel, swimming four straits separating five continents and, earlier this year, becoming the first quadruple amputee to complete a 33-metre dive.
Date created : 2013-08-12