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Activist dies after United Airlines destroyed her custom wheelchair

Activist dies after United Airlines destroyed her custom wheelchair
Advocacy group says ‘broken’ replacement wheelchair was to blame

A well known disability activist has reportedly died from complications associated with the loss of her custom fauteuil roulant, which was destroyed during a United Airlines vol.

Engracia Figueroa, 51, was admitted to an USI unit about two weeks ago and according to Hand in Hand, a US-wide network advocating for dignified working conditions, died on Sunday.

United Airlines allegedly destroyed hr custom-made wheelchair during a flight from Washington DC à Californie, her home. It was damaged in the cargo-hold.

Despite having a spinal cord injury and left leg amputation, Ms Figueroa was allegedly forced to wait five hours after landing at an airport.

She was provided with another wheelchair that Hand in Hand said was “broken”, and caused her discomfort and further injury.

“When she was finally able to return home, she experienced acute pain, and was admitted to the hospital multiple times in the subsequent months”, it was alleged.

The replacement wheelchair was said to have not supported her back and weight distribution properly, and “Because of this, she developed a skin ulcer that became infected, and gastrointestinal issues that made eating difficult.”

She died of those complications in an ICU on Sunday, in what Hand in Hand said was a “needless death” that had “shocked and enraged” friends of Ms Figueroa.

“This loss should never have happened. While we are reeling from the layers of injustice this tragedy makes visible, we are holding Engracia’s tenacity and resolve as our guidepost,” the advocacy network said.

Ms Figueroa, dans une interview avec Actualités ABC7 en août, said she feared flying because her custom-made wheelchair was an “extension” of her body.

“We always hope that when we give you this extension of our body, that you are going to give it back to us in the same way,” said the activist of disabled passengers. “It’s basically seeing your whole life ripped from you, and being re-disabled all over again”.

According to figures from the US Department of Transportation, airlines on average mishandle about 10,500 mobility devices annyually, amounting to almost 30 un jour.

Acting under the Air Carrier Access Act, United Airlines agreed to fully replace Ms Figueroa’s wheelchair, which was valued at $30,000 (£22,320).

Hand in Hand said that “the months in which they fought against the replacement took a toll on her body”, although United Airlines has said previously that it was working to fix the wheelchair as “quickly as possible”.

L'indépendant has approached United Airlines for comment.