Family: College student left stranded at JFK airport after custom wheelchair was stolen

The $6,000 customized wheelchair helped O’Brien, who has cerebral palsy, to get around easier. Now, she is forced to use her manual backup wheelchair.

News 12 Staff

May 8, 2022, 5:10 PM

Updated 712 days ago

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The outraged family of 24-year-old Victoria O’Brien sat down with News 12 on Sunday after they say she was left stranded at John F. Kennedy International Airport when her motorized wheelchair was stolen. 
The $6,000 customized wheelchair helped O’Brien, who has cerebral palsy, to get around easier. Now, she is forced to use her manual backup wheelchair. 
O'Brien says when she was escorted off the plane and didn't see her wheelchair on the jet bridge, an attendant thought maybe the chair was in baggage claim. She waited for three hours in a loaner wheelchair at the airport, but came away with no answers from the airline.
The family says they believe a passenger on the flight took off with the wheelchair. Victoria’s mother says she is planning to file a police report.
O’Brien wants American Airlines to be held accountable so it does not happen to anyone else and tells News 12 this is about her independence. 
“A wheelchair is not just luggage,” says O’Brien. “It’s not like you can get it at CVS.” 
O’Brien will have to wait at least two months to get a new wheelchair. 
According to O’Brien, American Airlines says she will have to wait 30 days until they investigate the matter. 
News 12 has reached out to the American Airlines for comment, but have not heard back. 


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