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Thief steals car from handicapped man

| Friday, May 4, 2012, 9:24 a.m.

Mike McFadden says he's angry and frustrated after having his car stolen for the second time in six months.

The Westmoreland County man had just finished his shift as a manager at the McDonald's on the Pennsylvania Turnpike in New Stanton early Friday when he pulled into the nearby Sunoco A-Plus convenience store in New Stanton at about 1 a.m. to get some gas for his 1996 Dodge Intrepid.

"I went inside, prepaid, pumped $7 worth of gas into the car, cleaned off my windows and went back around to my car, unlocked my car door and was ready to get into it," said McFadden, 21, of Madison.

He was then approached by a man who asked for directions.

"He was walking over from (the nearby bar), asking me for directions to (Interstate) 70," McFadden said. "I think nothing of it. I tried to give him the directions and he came up closer and closer and put an object in my lower back and said it was a gun and he wanted my car keys. I was trying to tell him, 'Don't take my car,' because of the hand controls."

McFadden needs hand controls in his vehicle because he is afflicted with spina bifida, a birth defect of the spine. He can't use his feet when he drives. He can walk on his own a little, but uses crutches.

As the suspect pulled away in the car, McFadden was holding onto the drivers' side door.

"I was still holding onto the door with my hand and he took off," McFadden said. "He started pulling away with me hanging on. I got dragged probably about 20 feet."

McFadden, who received scratches and bruises, said he has not recovered from his experience on Dec. 20 when his car was stolen from the same station.

As he paid for his gas, he left the engine running. A male jumped in his 1998 Ford Taurus and took off. The vehicle was not recovered.

The man who stole his Intrepid crashed it on the turnpike near the Irwin interchange. Damage to the vehicle was extensive and the thief fled before troopers arrived.

McFadden said it may take him some time to get another specially equipped vehicle. He said it costs about $1,200 to install the hand controls.

His mother, Donna McFadden, said her son's disability makes him an easy target.

"He's handicapped, but he doesn't let that stop him from doing anything. He works hard and he goes to school full time. Someone like (the thief) who probably isn't doing anything is out there ripping people off."

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