Boy stranded by Air Canada gets his wheelchair back
A 10-year-old boy whose customized wheelchair was badly damaged on an Air Canada flight from Toronto to New York is ready to roll again.
Tanner Bawn's $15,000 wheelchair was delivered Thursday afternoon to the New York hotel room where he has been stranded since arriving in the city.
Tanner, who has Duchenne's Muscular Dystrophy, flew to the Big Apple with his mother and aunt on Wednesday. The plan was to fulfill one of his wishes -- to take part in a tutu-themed fundraising race in New York with friends, family and supporters.
But his dream was dashed when the family arrived at La Guardia Airport to discover his electric wheelchair had shattered en route.
Tanner's aunt said the chair was completely mangled.
"They killed it," said Catherine Connors from New York. "Some pieces were just removed, some were broken off. It had been laid on its side, and it can't. It's a power chair. It was trashed."
Unable to get around without a proper wheelchair, Tanner had been effectively confined to his hotel room.
The boy's family said Air Canada promised to provide Tanner with a temporary powered wheelchair by the evening, but the replacement never materialized.
The family was then told nothing could be done until Monday, leaving Tanner devastated at the prospect of not being able to race in his own event.
"He was basically trapped," said Connors. "That he wasn't able to hold himself up in the chair was frightening for him. He was frustrated being confined to the bed."
The family took to Twitter and their situation soon became one of the most talked-about topics among Canadian users. A deluge of Twitter messages blasted the airline for failing to replace the wheelchair.
Hope returned Thursday afternoon when the boy's aunt, Catherine Connors, tweeted: "TANNER HAS HIS CHAIR BACK."
The airline said that it found a 24-hour repair shop in New York that was able to repair the chair and get it working again.
Air Canada has also vowed to complete more permanent repairs when Tanner returns home. They also said that a repaired chair was to be delivered to the boy earlier, but that order did not materialize.
The other good news is that Tanner will get to fulfill another dream.
"We know Tanner's No. 1 personal wish is to go to Disney World, so we'll be making that happen for him and his cousins," said airline spokesman Peter Fitzpatrick.
He said that the company was "disappointed" in how the situation unfolded, but that it would be reviewed.
Now, Tanner and his family are again planning to take part in the "Tutus For Tanner" charity race on Friday. Money from the fundraiser will be used to fulfill another of Bawn's wishes: live-in care, so he can spend his last days at home.