Police: Stolen wheelchair-accessible van returned to Cartersville couple

Police said that a Bartow County couple's stolen wheelchair-accessible van has been returned. 

Jason Smith and Hayley Summers said their 2007 Buick Tarrazo was taken over the weekend. 

The couple said they parked the van in their driveway just before midnight Saturday and when a family member stopped by at around 2:30 Sunday afternoon, it was no longer there. They immediately reported the theft to Cartersville Police.

"My van is kind of my lifeline for me," said Smith. "I have to have it. I mean, it's the most important part of my life.  So when I saw that it was gone, initially it was just shock."

The vehicle is specially modified to be wheelchair-accessible. The driver's seat was removed and a ramp and hand controls were added so that Smith can drive himself.

Smith is a quadriplegic and has been in a wheelchair since he suffered a serious spinal cord injury in 2009.

"It took a lot for him to even be able to get back to work after having a spinal cord injury and a lot of people who have this injury aren't lucky enough to be able to even go back to work,"  said Summers.  "So, just the fact that he has been able to get a job and have that job for over a year and have this van to take him to and from work, I don't think people realize how big of a deal that is." 

Smith works in Kennesaw and had already spoken to his boss about taking Monday off so that he could arrange new transportation. Renting a wheelchair-accessible van would have cost Smith about $100 per day. 

Thankfully, police said early Monday morning the van had been located and was returned to the couple overnight.

Investigators told FOX 5 the keys were in the ignition when the vehicle was stolen. It was found abandoned in a parking lot on Roving Road early Monday. 

Police haven't released any details regarding a possible suspect.