Nine-year-old Fresno girl with special needs has stolen wheelchair returned

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Going for a walk around the trailer park is one of Ariana Montalvo's favorite things. She has a form of cerebral palsy and her mom said getting outside is something her daughter has missed since her wheelchair was taken.

"She's confined to the house without her wheelchair we couldn't take her for walks, to the park, we can't take her to the grocery store, we can't take her to school," said Nicole Montalvo, Ariana's mom.

The $3,000 custom chair was in the family minivan when the van was stolen on Monday. Surveillance cameras caught it being driven out of the trailer park at Church and Chestnut.

The loss of transportation left the Montalvo's and their four children stranded. But after a story ran on ABC30 a citizen spotted the van and called police.

"The vehicle was recovered and returned to the victims, but the wheelchair for the daughter of the victim was not in the vehicle," said Joe Gomez, Fresno Police Department.

News of the missing wheelchair prompted offers of donations, but two days later another citizen found the wheelchair in an alley and took it to a police station.

Ariana's Mom is more than grateful.

"I was starting to give up hope and when I got that call from the detective I was in tears I was so happy," said Montalvo.

Getting the old family van and the wheelchair back is a blessing and making life a lot easier for a family used to dealing with life's challenges.

"Even though it's hard for us, we wouldn't change it for anything. I would not change, I love her the way that she is and to me she is perfect. I don't know that all I can say about having a child with special needs," said Montalvo.
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