Daniel Knickel, 18, was heartbroken to discover thieves had stolen his wheelchair overnight Wednesday to Thursday. Saturday morning you couldn't wipe the smile off his face after a stranger gifted him a new set of wheels.
Daniel Knickel, 18, was heartbroken to discover thieves had stolen his wheelchair overnight Wednesday to Thursday. Saturday morning you couldn't wipe the smile off his face after a stranger gifted him a new set of wheels. Amber Hooker

'Lowest of the low': Thieves steal Rocky boy's wheelchair

DANIEL Knickel's wheelchair was as much a part of him as any limb.

The 18 year old has no muscle in his legs, his feet curl in, and to move out of his chair he has to wiggle along the ground.

"He cannot really use his legs at all," his cousin Kady-Jayne Madigan explained of his condition, spina bifida.

So when thieves broke in to Daniel's fenced, Simpson St home and stole his wheelchair from the backyard, their apparent fun hit the "lowest of lows".

It appears the criminals entered the front fence, through the car port and accessed the yard - where the wheelchair was sitting - via the back gate.

All this on Wednesday night as Kady took Daniel for a drive around town to look at Christmas lights - something which brings Daniel great joy.

Kady-Jayne Madigan with her cousin, Daniel Knickel, 18, and daughter Holly Madigan, 9. Daniel has spina bifida, and was shocked to discover his wheelchair was recently stolen from his Rockhampton home.
Kady-Jayne Madigan with her cousin, Daniel Knickel, 18, and daughter Holly Madigan, 9. Daniel has spina bifida, and was shocked to discover his wheelchair was recently stolen from his Rockhampton home. Amber Hooker

He and his mother had moved from Blackwater only six weeks earlier in pursuit of better opportunities for Daniel, who also has attention deficit disorder and is autistic.

In that time, careless criminals have also tried to steal the Christmas lights straight off the fence - another blow for the family as they settle in Rockhampton.

"He did his schooling, and once that was finished there's nothing left for disabled children in Blackwater," Kady explained.

"So they came to Rocky for more opportunities, for him to get out and about with organisations, to get out and do stuff.

"It kind of just, the whole taking his wheelchair, knocked him back a couple of pegs.

"He was devastated; that's the one thing that has always been his, he has always had his wheelchair.

"When his mother walked out and seen that it was gone he was asking, 'Why? Why has it gone?'."

Daniel Knickel, 18, was heartbroken to discover thieves had stolen his wheelchair overnight Wednesday to Thursday. Saturday morning you couldn't wipe the smile off his face after a stranger gifted him a new set of wheels.
Daniel Knickel, 18, was heartbroken to discover thieves had stolen his wheelchair overnight Wednesday to Thursday. Saturday morning you couldn't wipe the smile off his face after a stranger gifted him a new set of wheels. Amber Hooker

Daniel was couch-bound for two days as the family tried to work out how to move forward; kind strangers answered their desperation.

An infectious smile said more than Daniel's words could as the teenager showed off the features of a wheelchair Rockhampton mother Robi Clark had gifted him Saturday morning.

Bigger, comfier and easier to use than its predecessor, Daniel has a new-found independence given he can wheel himself around.

It also helps his mother, who would usually have to push him.

Robi had planned to buy her daughter, Emmy, a new wheelchair in a few weeks time, but upgraded straight away when she became aware of Daniel's situation via a Facebook post.

The Queensland Police Service is aware of the theft, though with no witnesses, suspects or CCTV footage the culprits will likely get away with their crime.

"It could haver been anyone, looking for fun, opportunity to take something and that was right there in front of them," Kady said.

"I have quite a few choice words I could say... it's just low, that's the lowest you can go stealing a wheelchair from a disabled child.

"He needs it to go anywhere...they are his life those wheels."

REPORTING CRIME

  • Contact Policelink 24/7 on 131 444
  • Crime Stoppers anonymously on 1800 333 000
  • Visit crimestoppers.com.au


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