Stolen van returned to Tampa man paralyzed from ALS

Posted at 12:51 PM, Sep 15, 2016
and last updated 2016-09-16 16:49:40-04

Out of all the vehicles to steal in the 900 block of Eskimo Avenue in Tampa, someone chose a 2005 Chevy Uplander on Wednesday. 

It wasn't just your typical van, it was a wheelchair accessible van for a man suffering with Lou Gehrig's disease. 

Eric Chapman has been battling ALS for the past five years. 

On Wednesday morning, his wife, Margie, discovered someone stole the van they needed to get him to important doctor appointments.

Tampa police tell ABC Action News the van was found 8300 block of 14th Street North, only four miles from where Chapman lives. 

"The axel is broken," said Chapman's wife. 

That has left the car completely undriveable. 

A woman living at the house where the van was found said she called 911 to report the van in her driveway. 

Rosalyn Brown said a neighbor asked her to watch the vehicle for her in her driveway -- but, when a group of teens tried to drive away with it, she called 911. 

Despite the broken van, Chapman is relieved, as the van was a gift to him from another man who passed away from ALS. 

"Eric is happy," said Margie, "as he calls it, 'she's home.'"

The family, on a fixed income, will have to pay their insurance deductible to get the van fixed. An extra $500 the Chapman's don't have. 


Eric Chapman, has been left paralyzed from ALS, and depends on the $10,000 van that was given to him as a gift from another gentleman who passed away from the same disease. 

"He's already trapped in his body, he shouldn't be trapped in his home too," said his wife, Margie Chapman after the van was reported missing.

The report stated that Chapman's wife was unsure if she locked the van that day. 

The van is equipped with a wheelchair ramp, with rust on the right rear door. 

A post on Facebook, from Chapman's family is begging people to be on the lookout for the green van. We shared his story and the van has been located. Thank you for all of your help.