Memphis police surprise girl with wheelchair recovered after thief stole family’s van

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — For two days, Annabelle Hulgan’s wheelchair with hot pink accents was missing, presumably scrapped after a thief stole her family’s van from their Memphis-area driveway, and the Cordova teenager was inconsolable.

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“I called my friends screaming and crying,” Annabelle Hulgan, who has Spina Bifida, told WHBQ.

Her mother, Christen Hulgan, said that she left the van running with the custom-made $8,000 wheelchair and other belongings inside while she went inside to carry her daughter to the vehicle. During those brief moments, however, a juvenile drove away in the van, police said.

“The wheelchair is an extension of (Annabelle’s) body. Those are her legs. That’s part of who she is,” Christen Hulgan told the TV station.

In addition, replacing the wheelchair would have cost the family roughly $10,000 and would have taken about eight months to receive, WHBQ reported.

Although officers arrested the suspected thief and found the van at around 1 a.m. Thursday in a Frayser, Tennessee, impound lot, the wheelchair was nowhere in sight, WLBT reported.

Fortunately, a tip received Friday morning led officers to the wheelchair, which had been abandoned on the side of the road, WHBQ reported.

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“Like a miracle! We started screaming, and I was jumping, and you were screaming,” Christen Hulgan recalled.

Two officers with the Memphis Police Department, identified only as Officer Hall and Officer Rodgers with the Austin Peay precinct, made the special delivery, WLBT reported.

“I ran out here to them and started squealing and jumping up and down. Then, I started crying,” Christen Hulgan said.

“Then (Hall and Rodgers) started crying,” Annabelle Hulgan added.

“And then (the officers) started getting teary and said, ‘Oh my gosh, this is the best thing ever. We’re really happy to do something really good,’” Christen Hulgan told WLBT, thanking “Memphians looking out for Memphians.”

“We are just overjoyed. I mean, completely, completely overjoyed. We’ve had so much love and concern sent our way, and we could not be more grateful,” she added.

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