Woman Whose Wheelchair Caught On Fire Gets New Ride - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

08/06/08 - East Texas

Woman Whose Wheelchair Caught On Fire Gets New Ride

Ever since we first aired the story last Friday, our newsroom has been flooded with e-mails and phone calls. An east Texas woman, an amputee, was in serious danger after her electric wheelchair caught fire last week.

Luckily, a good Samaritan named Obie Simpkins was able to pull Jerri Smith from the flames.

But her wheelchair was burned to a crisp. Unfortunately, Medicare wouldn't buy her a new one.

But, as KLTV 7's Danielle Capper reports, today Jerri received the gift of new wheels.

Jerri has been through a lot this past week, from a narrow fire escape to today.

"Hello, I'm Annie Dickerson. I have a special gift for you today."

A gift that Annie had been holding on to for just the right moment.

"It's something I just wanted to share with somebody that really needed it, and your story touched my heart," Annie told Jerri today.

"I had just looked in the garage and saw this chair and said I've got to do something that very day. Then your story came on the air."

"Can I get in it," asked Jerri? "Yes!" replied Annie.  

Access 2 Mobility also chipped in to help.

"The batteries needed to be changed. So we put on some new batteries and tightened loose bolts and went over the whole chair and made sure it was a good running chair that she could use for quite a while," said Mike Green of Access 2 Mobility. 

Jerri's new wheels even had some power she wasn't quite used to.

"How fast does this thing go?...I'm gone, y'all won't be able to keep up with me."

A burned field is all that's left of Jerri's old wheelchair that started a fire and burned these 2 acres. But it's the story behind this wheelchair and her new one that mean so much.

"My husband was disabled for 4 years. For the first 2 years he was not able to be mobile because he did not have a chair," Annie told us today. 

Annie's late husband Don's birthday would have been Monday - the day she handed the chair over to get fixed up for Jerri.

"It gave him back life. It gave him mobility that he had lost. It gave him a will to live that he didn't have, and that is why I wanted somebody that really needed it to get it."

It was even more special, because Jerri's old wheelchair was a gift from a dying friend.

"It's awesome to see you in that chair," Annie told Jerri today. 

Sharing mobility and life.

"You know God puts people in your life. You're just the one he put in my life. I needed this as much as you needed this," said Annie.

We wanted to let you know about a ministry in east Texas that does distribute used wheelchairs to those that need one.

It's called the East Texas Center for Independent Living. Their number is 903-581-7542.

We've received numerous offers from you wanting to give Jerri an electric wheelchair, and for that, we thank you.

Danielle Capper, reporting. dcapper@kltv.com

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