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Stolen: the irreplaceable bike that was paraplegic's lifeline
A FORMER dive instructor disabled by the bends a decade ago has had his ‘lifeline’ £1,000 motorised tricycle stolen from his Poole flat.
Stephen Kitson, 55, was lucky to survive after he developed the bends followed a diving accident off Weymouth in 2002, and was left paralysed from the chest down.
After 15 months in hospital and years of rehabilitation he fought to reclaim the use of his legs – but still suffers near constant pain and spasms.
He told the Echo his battery powered trike, which he had shipped in and customised to fit his specific needs, was irreplaceable.
It was locked in the lobby of his Poole Quarter flats near Seldown Bridge when it was stolen some time on Wednesday, January 9 or Thursday, January 10.
“I’m a walking paraplegic – this was my lifeline,” he said.
“It enabled me to get out to the shops, to go and see friends. It helped me keep fit. I did everything on it. I’m lost without it.”
He said his trike, taken without its £200 battery, is useless without it and he fears it will end up “dumped in a ditch somewhere”.
“I have learned to walk again and this has been part of my rehabilitation,” he added.
“I call this my second life and of course the bike was very important to me – getting some exercise and getting some air. I’d absolutely love to have it back.”
Steve suffered devastating injuries following the incident in 2002 when he joined a dive to a 53m wreck off the coast of Weymouth.
Air trapped in his dry suit caused him to surface too quickly – resulting in nitrogen bubbles forming in his body. As they dispersed they destroyed nerve endings and crushed his vertebrae.
He spent 13 hours in the decompression chamber as medics struggled to make him stable.
Then followed a gruelling road to recovery which included 40 days of excruciating 90-minute sessions in the chamber to stimulate the nerves, 15 months in hospital and years of ongoing physiotherapy and rehabilitation.
He told the Echo he was known as “dead man walking,” after doctors told him they had never seen someone so badly damaged who had survived. No one expected him to walk again.
But incredibly Steve defied all the odds and educated his body to bypass the damage. He is able to walk short distances using sticks. However he still endures near constant pain and spasms as a result of the severe damage.
PC Fiona Wilson, of Poole police said: “This crime is very distressing for the victim and has caused a lot of inconvenience. “As well as wanting to bring the offender to justice we are keen to locate the trike and to return it to its owner.
“It is extremely distinctive and we ask members of the community to keep a look out for it as we believe it could have been abandoned somewhere.”
Anyone with information should contact Dorset Police on 101 quoting the crime reference number 13:C:1471.