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Boys switch off electric wheelchair and roll it in front of bus
Sue Gyford - Evening News - 13th August 2010
A disabled pensioner today spoke of the terrifying moment two young children switched off his electric wheelchair and tried to push him in front of a bus.
Andrew Harding, 72, was only saved when another passer-by grabbed the chair and pulled him to safety as the bus rushed past.
Now police are trying to find his rescuer in the hope that he might be able to help identify the boys, who are thought to only be around nine years old.
Mr Harding was outside the Fountain Park complex waiting to cross the busy Dundee Street when he felt the wheelchair roll over the kerb and get stuck as the raincover caught in the wheels.
He said: "It was a group of two or three people waiting to cross and I was at the front. The next thing, I found that I just couldn't move. The gentleman behind me pulled me back.
"Everything just happened so fast. It did shake me up, thinking about what could have happened.
"I've seen two or three times in the paper where people in wheelchairs have been targeted and I just don't think it's fair."
The incident was especially frightening for cerebral palsy sufferer Mr Harding because it brought back memories of losing his leg at the age of seven when the door of a bus he was travelling in swung open. He fell from the moving vehicle and he got trapped beneath the back wheel, and later had to have his leg amputated.
He was fitted with a prosthetic leg and went on to become an active sportsman and disability rights campaigner, only using a wheelchair in recent years as his health deteriorated.
His wife, Dorothy, said the latest incident, which took place around 4.15pm on Wednesday when Mr Harding had gone out alone, had shaken them both.
She said: "They must have known somebody who has a chair like my husband's because the switches are so far down at the back they wouldn't have known how to do it otherwise. They switched it off and pushed the chair into the road."
Mrs Harding said another two men had then come to her husband's aid. She said: "They wanted to take him back into the complex and get a cup of tea. I think he just wanted to get home. They took him across the road and he got on to a bus and it was when he was on the bus that he felt really awful. I was just so angry."
Mr Harding, who lives in Broomhouse, had to take the tranquilliser diazepam to calm him down and help him sleep after the incident.
He only caught sight of the children as they fled and has appealed for anyone who had witnessed it to come forward.
A police spokesman said: "What these boys did was not only extremely cruel and insensitive, but incredibly dangerous. We are keen to speak to anyone who saw anything."
Gordon Buchan, the Conservative councillor for Fountainbridge said: "I am shocked at what sounds like a completely disgusting thing for children to think is acceptable behaviour. To do that to anybody in that situation is clearly wrong but considering the poor man's age, too, it is sickening."
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