Disabled veteran in search of his customized wheelchair after losing it on highway

Colton Read said having his specially-made wheelchair made him feel like he had legs again

New Braunfels – A New Braunfels Air Force veteran is asking for the community’s help with finding his custom-made wheelchair that fell off of his truck while he was on the highway.

Colton Read, 32, lost both of his legs during his deployment in 2009.

“I served just under five years,” Read said. “I started getting this pain in my right side and it was decided that I needed gallbladder surgery.”

That surgery resulted in major complications that caused Read to lose 3 ½ liters of blood internally.

“When they tried to correct it, they did not repair the wound correctly,” Read said. “I went over eight hours with no blood flow to my legs. They told my wife that I wasn’t going to make it and that they did everything they could.”

Read pulled through after doctors had to amputate both of his legs at the knees.

“I have been blessed with a support system of family and my wife,” Read said. “The hardest part was when I was out of the hospital, I was watching “Cops.” I planned to retire from the military after 20 years and go into being a cop. I just broke down because I knew my life of becoming a cop was never going to happen.”

Life changed dramatically for Read.

Five years after he lost his legs, he was given a specially made wheelchair from the organization Segs4Vets.

“It is a unique chair,” Read said. “It is developed based off a Segway. Instead of having to control my movements with a joystick, I can just lean, and it goes. It helps because I have small daughters and I am able to hold them and steer at the same time.”

Read said last Tuesday was the last time he saw his chair.

“I was leaving the VA to get an oil change,” Read said. “We were riding off I-10 and in between my route, we notice the strap was a little lose so we pulled over and doubled checked to make sure the strap was tight. We did that in front of Dixie Flag. When we stated to drive, we went onto 410 and got onto I-10 and took that exit to go to the Flying J to get my oil changed and when we got there we realized my chair was no longer on the back of my truck.”

Read said he retraced that same route several times, but his chair was nowhere to be found.

He reported it lost with the San Antonio Police Department.

He also made a post about the chair on Facebook, which has been shared over 4,000 times.

“I was thinking by now, someone had to have seen it and would have said something already,” Read said. “I am fearful that someone is trying to scrap it out. Segways are a unique commodity that a lot of people want. The batteries are hard to come by and I am fearful that someone is trying to scrap it out and sell the batteries and take it a part.”

Since his chair disappeared, Read said life has been a struggle.

“I have had three wrist surgeries because it is hard to manually wheel,” Read said. “I am not bedridden, but I have had to spend a lot more time in bed or sitting down.”

He said getting his chair back means everything to him.

“It is the closest thing to having legs again. I have been on prosthetics and that takes a lot of work and effort. The mindless going about your day with having legs, I found that in this wheelchair.”

“It makes a big difference in every aspect of my life. Going out and playing with my kids in the backyard. Playing in the front. It affects my ability to be able to work. It is my most prized most valuable possession in my life.”

The chair has a square base, is military OD green, has two wheels and weighs 150 pounds.

If you have seen Read’s chair, you are urged to contact police.

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About the Authors:

Japhanie Gray is a reporter with KSAT12 News.

Before starting at KSAT in August 2011, Ken was a news photographer at KENS. Before that he was a news photographer at KVDA TV in San Antonio. Ken graduated from San Antonio College with an associate's degree in Radio, TV and Film. Ken has won a Sun Coast Emmy and four Lone Star Emmys. Ken has been in the TV industry since 1994.