Accident leaves handicapped teen without specialized van

Adam Carpenter, 17, is pictured in the specialized van that was damaged by a suspected hit-and-run driver in a late-night accident in front of the family home. Courtesy photo
Adam Carpenter, 17, is pictured in the specialized van that was damaged by a suspected hit-and-run driver in a late-night accident in front of the family home. Courtesy photo

“He literally cannot get around without the van. He’s stuck at home for Christmas break.”

---Zak Carpenter

By Dixie Pettit

A late-night accident has dashed the dream ride of a disabled Ramona teenager.

According to Zachary “Zak” Carpenter, his son Adam will be unable to enjoy the Christmas break that Adam had planned with friends because the family’s van was “slammed into” while parked in front of the family home about 10:45 p.m. on Dec. 12.

According to California Highway Patrol Officer Bryan Pennings, “the individual driving the vehicle collided with the parked van. The impact tore the right front of the van.”

“The driver fled the scene, leaving the car in the middle of the street,” said Pennings.

Ramona resident James Arsenault, 27, was later charged with suspicion of misdemeanor hit and run and driving his girlfriend’s car without insurance, according to the CHP.

Adam has cerebral palsy, seizures, pancreatitis and several other medical challenges that have significantly impacted his life, his father said.  Make-A-Wish Foundation® San Diego Chapter granted Adam his wish, a swim spa at his home, in an effort to ease the severe discomforts of his condition. Carpenter is working on the deck construction for the spa, which he said is to help Adam “feel like a regular kid” and be able to participate in an activity with friends.

The van was Adam’s only other way to get out with friends, his father said, adding, “Now he doesn’t even have that. He literally cannot get around without the van. He’s stuck at home for Christmas break.”

The family celebrated Adam’s 17th birthday on Friday, trying not to focus on the overwhelming task of replacing such a specialized vehicle.

Initial estimates to fix the van have already hit $32,000.

While the van is insured, Carpenter said he does not know if the insurance will cover all of the specialized modifications.

“The handicap equipment alone is $23,500, then there’s the conversion and installation on top of the cost,” said Carpenter.

Carpenter has found a van to rent over the holidays for $90 a day, but he said that, due to the suspect’s uninsured status, he is at a loss what to do to replace the van.

“It could be weeks or months before we have our van back,” said Carpenter. “It’s just not right.”

   
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