Hundreds on Twitter criticize airline for breaking Tanner Bawn’s wheelchair
Thursday, August 5, 2010
Tanner Bawn, 10, suffers from Duchenne’s Muscular Dystrophy. (Her Bad Mother)
A terminally ill boy whose specialized wheelchair was broken on an Air Canada flight from Toronto to New York has been given it back after the
airline had it fixed.
Tanner Bawn, 10, his aunt and his mother arrived at La Guardia Airport on Wednesday and discovered the boy’s $15,000 custom wheelchair in pieces. The boy, a native of Kamloops, B.C., suffers from Duchenne’s Muscular Dystrophy.
Shortly after 2 p.m. ET, Scott Stratten, a self-described viral and social marketing expert who is accompanying the family on the trip to New York,
said Bawn’s repaired wheelchair has been returned.
Bawn’s family was planning to take part in a charity run called Tutus for Tanner in New York City on Friday.
The boy’s aunt, Catherine Connors, who runs the parenting blog Her Bad Mother, tweeted about the incident Wednesday night after arriving at La Guardia airport.
Connors said the family was devastated and, without a proper wheelchair, the boy was confined to his hotel bedroom, unable to get around.
The story struck a nerve and was picked up by hundreds of people on Twitter who lambasted Air Canada for the incident.
Around 11:30 a.m. ET on Thursday, Air Canada issued a response on Twitter to the issue: “We’re sorry Tanner. We’re working w/ yr family 2 make this up 2 you ASAP @herbadmother”.
Family disputed Air Canada account
Peter Fitzpatrick, a spokesman for Air Canada, said in an email to CBC News that Air Canada had “immediately” sent the broken chair out for repairs.
“We also supplied a manual wheelchair and later in the evening an electric wheelchair for his use in the interim.
“Once we learned the replacement chair was inadequate, we got in contact with the family to see what we could do for them. Because the chair is
custom-made, it is difficult to get it repaired or replaced quickly, but we are doing all we can.”
The Bawn camp quickly disputed that account.
Stratten said the Air Canada response has “so many lies it’s not even funny.
“They did not send an electric wheelchair last night, there was one sitting in the lobby this morning that was not adequate. We were never told it was
there,” he said in an email. “They never called to say it, they never called
after hearing it was inadequate and the replacement that just got here is a scooter people use to go shopping, and is worse than the first.”
with files from The Canadian Press