Family’s handicap accessible van stolen in Tower Grove Park

ST. LOUIS - A mother is asking the community to be on the lookout for her handicap accessible van that was stolen.

An afternoon in the park turns into a mother’s worst nightmare.

“I realized I had stopped right next to this tree and it was just not there. I knew it had been stolen,” says Suzanne Bentonville, owner of stolen van.

She says she was in Tower Grove Park on Thursday and when she went back to where she parked her van it was gone.

The only thing left behind was tire tracks through the mud, “On the outside it looks like a regular Grand Caravan,” she said.

But inside it was retrofitted to be handicap accessible. It’s for her son who has multiple sclerosis and uses a wheelchair.

“He can only ride in a wheelchair van so I cannot just go out and buy another car for myself to get around. He has to have a wheelchair van,” she says.

Her van a has a United Access Decal on the back, a handicap decal on the driver side, and dents in the back bumper. It may still have Illinois plates on it starting with AF9.

She says a new wheelchair accessible van can cost up to a $45,000 or she could possibly get a used one for $10,000.

But that financial worry isn’t the only concern on her mind.

“If there is an emergency there’s no way to get him anywhere,” she explains.

And for some who grew up in this community, they’re heartbroken to hear what happened here.

“I feel like what happened was wrong, but sometimes you have minor setbacks for a major comeback,” said Kenneth Baker-Payne, a Tower Grove Resident.

Bentonville says she’s starting to see just that.

“I put out word on Facebook that I needed a ride home, that I’ve been outside for two or three hours in the cold. I had so many people coming to help me out, even people that I’d only met once or twice. One of my friends set up a GoFundMe for me. We’ve also got a Facebook donation page which people are already donating to. I’ve got the best friends.”

Support from friends and stranger alike, who want to make things right for her and her family.

If you see the black 2004 Dodge Caravan, please call the St. Louis city police.

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