Specially equipped minivan stolen from man with cerebral palsy in Brewster

CeFaan Kim Image
Thursday, August 16, 2018
Van stolen from teen with cerebral palsy
CeFaan Kim has the exclusive story of the stolen van in Brewster.

BREWSTER, New York (WABC) -- In an Eyewitness News exclusive, a 21-year-old with cerebral palsy is pleading for the return of his specially-equipped, handicapped accessible van.

It was stolen from the driveway of his home in the Putnam County village of Brewster.

Ryan Gotto and single mom Christy have a daily routine that has become clockwork.

"We change Ryan in his bed and then we lift him into his wheelchair," she said.

They spend more than an hour every morning just to start their day. The mother's patience is a testament of their bond.

But as of Thursday their path to the outside world ended, as their Brewster driveway became a dead end.

"It's a real hopeless feeling," said Christy. "It's overwhelming because we rely on our community. We are out and about. And it's scary to think if Ryan had to go to the doctor, he needs to go to therapy tomorrow, we're stuck."

Stuck because Wednesday night someone stole their minivan, and it wasn't just any minivan.

"We need it for everything," said Christy.

So specifically tailored to Ryan's needs, the minivan with modifications cost more than $60,000. It looks like a 2012 White Toyota Sienna, with a ramp for Ryan's wheelchair.

"You wheel in. It secured him. He stays in his chair. He can't go to another chair," said Christy.

It is the kind of thing that could make you lose hope in humanity. And Ryan fully comprehends what was stripped from his life.

But even in this moment, Ryan, a prankster at heart, just wanted to hear a joke.

"Knock knock. Knock knock. Who's there? Ice cream. Ice cream who? Ice cream every time I see your face," was the joke that had Ryan laughing.

As for Christy, a lifelong social worker, dedicated caretaker and loving mom, she just wants her minivan back.

"How are we gonna function? What's gonna happen?" she said. "This van is everything to us and I beg you to leave it wherever it is."


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