Eight-year-old double amputee stranded at airport after wheelchair goes missing

The incident happened after a Jet2 flight (PA Wire)

An eight-year-old boy was left ‘stranded’ at Gatwick Airport for five hours this morning after his wheelchair went missing.

Double amputee Tony Hudgell was returning from Lapland on a Jet2 flight with his adoptive parents this morning (December 12), where he had met Santa Claus.

But on their return to England they discovered his £6,500 wheelchair had not arrived ready for him, despite his parents having booked assistance in advance.

Airlines were already experiencing major delays following last night’s snowfall, and the family had been delayed for 4.5 hours before the incident.

When the wheelchair finally arrived five hours later, the family found that it had been “twisted and bent” during transport.

Tony’s mother Paula tweeted about the experience at 3am, saying she was “appalled” by the treatment of her son by staff at Jet2 and Gatwick Airport.

She said: “Appalled by @jet2tweets @Gatwick_Airport has been stranded for 3 hours now without a wheelchair as he is still on the plane.”

It was 3am, she continued, and the family had received “no help”. She added: “Double amputee with no legs because his wheelchair is his legs. Trying to get help or assistance and nothing #gatwickairport #disabled #wheelchair.

Jet2’s official Twitter account replied that they were “incredibly sorry to hear about your experience” and were “attempting to research to resolve this issue for you”.

Paula went on to say that the assistance was “five hours too late” and the needs of a wheelchair user were ignored.

She said: “Assistance was pre-booked. Should have been sorted and when it came out it was put on the treadmill and twisted and bent. Full complaint pending. Wheelchair cost us £6500 so walk through.

Tony is a well-known disability advocate, who was left legless after a horrific attack by his birth parents when he was just 41 days old. Both parents are serving 10-year prison sentences and Tony has since been adopted.

Through his disability awareness work, he has raised over £1.8million for charity.

A spokesperson for Gatwick Airport said The Independent“We are aware of this dire situation and we apologize for the distress caused to the Hudgell family.

“This is unacceptable and we have collected it urgently from airline Jet2 and their ground handler, Menzies. We experienced significant disruption last night and had to close the airport for two hours for security reasons.

A Jet2 spokesperson said The Independent“We would like to sincerely apologize to Mr. Hudgell and his family for the delay in receiving his wheelchair and any inconvenience caused as a result. As an award-winning airline that prides itself on providing customer service of tip, we take these matters very seriously and are working with our handling agent to investigate how this happened.

“We can confirm that the delay was due to the temporary closure of Gatwick Airport due to snow, which meant that the baggage handler experienced serious delays unloading luggage. Unfortunately, this included the wheelchair of Mr Hudgell.

“We recognize that this should not be the experience our customers have when traveling with us and can confirm that we have been in contact with Ms Hudgell to offer both our sincere apologies and to do all we can to remedy to this situation.”

The Independent contacted Menzies for comment.

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