Monday, September 06, 2021

Quadriplegic artist falls from ‘faulty’ wheelchair, airline blames his sister

Bengaluru: A 52-year-old quadriplegic artist with cerebral palsy sustained injuries after falling off a wheelchair provided by an airline at Kempegowda International Airport last week.

While his family demanded the airline fix its assistive devices to avoid such incidents, the latter blamed the handler, the man’s sister, for causing the accident.

On August 31, Ramakrishnan Narayanaswamy and his youngest sister Vimala Desouza from Bannerghatta Road were on their way to Old Goa where he had planned to spend a few months at her home.

Rendered a quadriplegic at a young age due to cerebral palsy and now a noted foot-painting artist in Bengaluru, Ramakrishnan had come to KIA to board a SpiceJet flight scheduled to take off at 9.50am. “As per rules, I had to check in my brother’s wheelchair and opted for the one given by SpiceJet. As I have good knowledge of wheelchairs over the years, I knew from the moment my brother was seated on it that there was something wrong and unsettling about it. As we decided to have breakfast before takeoff, the handler from the airline dropped my brother off at a cafeteria in the airport with me and left,” said Vimala, a special education teacher with 25 years of experience.

After breakfast, Vimala moved Ramakrishnan’s wheelchair and suddenly it collapsed, plummeting the disabled man to the ground. “Instantly, some people helped me lift my brother. When we tried to put him back I noticed the right wheel had gone off the wheelchair,” she said. Alerted by Vimala, airline ground staff brought a new wheelchair which was also allegedly damaged.

Ramakrishnan suffered minor injuries on his face and was disturbed. A staffer later wheeled him into the aircraft for the journey.

06/09/21 Petlee Peter/Times of India

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