PHILADELPHIA (WTXF) - A local disabled man says he found his wheelchair torched. Now a local agency is stepping in to help.
Bernard A. Brown is a devout Christian, a self-taught guitar player and a 61-year-old struggling with major challenges. He says a series of strokes and a workplace injury have robbed him of his mobility. He's also easily overcome with emotion.
"I need to get out of here. I need to get out of here. Man, because I have lots of medical problems," he told FOX 29.
His biggest problem appears to be the charred, rusting wheelchair in his backyard. Brown says in early June after he challenged a neighbor about drug dealing a threat was made to torch his chair. One evening he was jolted awake.
"I look I say where this big ball of light coming from? Get to the door struggling to get my things and my wheelchair was burning just like she said," he explained.
A black mark stains his driveway where the wheelchair burned. Without a mobile phone at the time, Brown was unable to call the fire department and he says no one else did. He has a police report where he makes the claim of arson, but Woodlynne, New Jersey's Director of Public Safety says investigators couldn't tell what happened.
"We really don't know who may have caused the fire or maybe it was electrical," Director of Public Safety Ed Figueroa said.
What's clear is that Bernard Brown--living on a $700 monthly social security check--has lost his only way to get around. It was a $5,000 chair likely obtained for him by social workers at Project Hope, which is a Camden based healthcare agency for the homeless where he's treated. On Tuesday, after meeting with FOX 29, the CEO pledged to have her group advocate for Brown. An act he would call a blessing.
"I'm praying to god each and everyday all night that I get another chair because I'm lost."
There's more good news to report. The CEO of Project Hope says her agency had already started the process to get Brown another wheelchair.