Thursday, September 4, 2008

'Angel's' Persistence Brings East Lyme Man's Wheelchair Home

'Angel's' Persistence Brings East Lyme Man's Wheelchair Home
By VANESSA DE LA TORRE | Courant Staff Writer
September 3, 2008
Fairy tales are the stuff of princes and pixies. They're not supposed to be real.

But there's no other way for George Reynolds to describe events that led to a meeting Tuesday, when he gave a $50 gift card to the man he called his "angel."

A month ago, Reynolds — who lost his left leg to lymphoma five years ago — was in a pitiful position.

He was being driven home from an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting on the night of Aug. 2. Two buddies were in the pickup truck, and Reynolds' wheelchair was in the back atop some carpentry tools. The men were chatting away, maybe too loudly, and perhaps the driver turned a corner too fast.

Because when the Chevy Silverado pulled up at Reynolds' apartment building in the Niantic section of East Lyme, the driver had no idea — nobody did — that the 35-pound wheelchair was gone.

"'It ain't there,'" Reynolds, 66, recalled his friend saying. "We were all in a panic. All three of us were."

The men backtracked, heading slowly down streets in several towns and scouring I-95, squinting into the dark for more than 20 miles. One friend hopped from the truck, jumped a railing and combed a stretch of woods. Another friend phoned police departments from Groton to East Lyme, asking whether any motorists had turned in a wheelchair, which also had Reynolds' keys clipped to it.

No one did. After a couple of hours, the three men were back at Reynolds' building.

"In the lobby where I live, they have these carts where you put groceries," said Reynolds, a former sheet metal worker.

His buddies put him in a cart and wheeled him to his apartment.

The 'Shiny Thing'
It was about 9:30 p.m., and the headlights on Scott Peszko's Toyota Tundra shone on something metallic lying on the roadside.

That Saturday night, Aug. 2, the unemployed former construction worker was northbound on I-95, trying to get to a pal's summer party in Lyme. He got off at Exit 72, near Rocky Neck State Park in East Lyme, and had just turned a corner at the end of the ramp when he saw the "shiny thing." He backed up and hopped out of his truck. That's when he noticed a set of keys dangling from an armrest.

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