BLASDELL, NY – Late last Wednesday or early Thursday morning, a thief or thieves stole a blue, 2012 Ford Escape from the driveway of the Frontier Drive home of Rick Jarosz.
Jarosz, the single father of an 11-year-old boy, was disabled after a fork lift accident at American Axle where he used to work, which left him unable to walk without assistance.
The Escape had hand controls for both the gas and brakes, and was outfitted with a lift and motorized scooter, which were taken as well.
While insurance may help him recover some of his losses, Jarosz wqas told it will be at least 28 days to file a claim, as the insurance company wants to give police time to recover the vehicle on the chance that it may be abandoned and intact.
It is standard procedure, but not much help for Jarosz, who moves about with the assistance of two canes and is unable to take any more than a few steps without having to stop.
"Whoever stole it, basically stole my life line," Jarosz told WGRZ-TV. "They stole my ability go to the park with my son, to take my him to hockey practice, to go to grocery store, or to be there with my son at the bus stop on first day of middle school coming up next week. I can't walk…I can't go anywhere," he said.
"This is like a slap in the face to humanity," declared Sandra Pufpaff, a friend of Jarosz's, who believes it was impossible for the thieves not to know they were stealing more than a car.
"There was a lift on the back of the car, and a scooter inside. That would tell you that it's someone with special needs," said Pufpaff. "To victimize a person like that is reprehensible.
Pufpaff says she first met Jarosz several years ago at Blasdell Elementary School where, despite his disability, he would volunteer teaching children to read. Her own son benefitted from Jarosz's efforts.
"I asked my little guy what he thought of Mr. Jarosz and he told me he's the guy who taught him his letters and how to make them into words. That means so much…this isn't a guy who faces challenges with self pity, this is a guy who wants to give back and certainly does."
While his limitations leave him unable to do certain things, Jarosz refuses to let this latest setback get the best of him.
"If I let it beat me down, then that guy (who stole the car) wins even more." Looking toward his son, Jarosz said, "I try and teach him good values. It's life…you have to deal with things, move on, and make sacrifices, and we'll just have to struggle a bit more to get back to where we were."
Click on the video player to watch our story from 2 On Your Side Reporter Dave McKinley and photojournalist Charles Moore.
If you can be of assistance to Rick Jarosz, please e-mail: Dave.McKinley@wgrz.com