UPDATE: A day after Global News broadcast Mitch Stark’s story, he says WestJet has been in contact to say repairs to his wheelchair have been approved.
A Vancouver man says baggage handlers dropped his specialized wheelchair on three separate WestJet flights, but the airline has yet to repair the damage.
Mitch Stark moved from Toronto to Vancouver earlier this year. Between May and August, he flew between the two cities on three flights operated by WestJet.
During the first flight in May, he watched from his window seat at the front of the plane as baggage handlers attempted to manually lift and load the 250-kilogram (450-pound) chair into the aircraft.
Instead, Stark said, it was dropped.
“These are my legs and in my mind I’m thinking, ‘they just dropped my legs,'” he said, describing what went through his mind as he saw the chair falling.
Whats more, Stark said he witnessed this happen on multiple occasions.
“It would literally drop onto the ground — bounce off of the ground like a basket ball,” he said.
“Then when they did get it into aircraft they would turn the wheelchair on its side because it doesn’t fit in the aircraft.”
He immediately filed a complaint with the airline and has tried for the last several months to get his wheelchair repaired.
In addition to missing fenders and lights, cracks and a dysfunctional armrest, the specialized chair that once enabled him to stand upright can no longer do so.
“This wheelchair is missing one of the integral parts in a wheel in order for it to be stable for me to stand up,” he said.
“From the first incident until now, I haven’t been able to use something that me and my family paid a lot of money for me to be able to stand, like any other person in the world.”
Damage is estimated at around $9,000, according to Stark.
In an email, a WestJet spokesperson apologized for the delayed repair, saying the company is working with a third party to fix the damage.
WestJet said it hopes to have the repairs done soon.
LISTEN: Mitch Stark joins Charles Adler to talk about his story