England

Paraplegic athlete forced to drag himself through airport after wheelchair left behind

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A paraplegic athlete is suing Luton airport after he was forced to drag himself through the terminal when his self-propelling wheelchair was left behind on a flight.

Staff at the airport had offered to push Justin Levene, 30, through arrivals on a rigid high-backed chair, which he declined because he felt it removed his independence.

He asked to use a motorised buggy instead, but Luton Airport did not have one.

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Justin told the BBC: Ive worked very hard for a number of years to try and maintain all of my independence.

And to be in one of the chairs they were offering would make me feel humiliated and degraded. They insisted in trying to strap me down in it.

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He was left unable to walk after suffering a herniated disk after a coughing fit just two days before his 21st birthday.

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He has competed as an international wheelchair athlete and become a mentor and trainer to other disabled athletes ever since and refused to let his disability living an independent life.

But he said he was left humiliated and degraded when his own wheelchair was left on his flight.

Provider: Twitter/justin_levene

He was left unable to walk after suffering a herniated disk after a coughing fit just two days before his 21st birthday (Picture: Twitter/justin_levene)

One of his friends filmed him dragging himself through the airport before sitting on a baggage trolley.

Although he acknowledges that mistakes can happen and wheelchairs can be left behind, he has never had to face a situation such as this.

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Justin is now suing Luton Airport, saying it did not give adequate disability equality and awareness training to those responsible for providing mobility assistance.

The lawsuit will focus on whether companies should provide disabled customers independent means to get around their premises, or if it enough to just offer transport.

Grabs - Paraplegic man drags himself through airport -

One of his friends filmed him dragging himself through the airport before sitting on a baggage trolley (Picture: BBC)

In a statement the airport said it was happy with its response.

It said: On discovering that Mr Levenes flight had arrived without his wheelchair, our teams worked hard to find a solution, offering Mr Levene an assisted wheelchair as a temporary replacement.

Mr Levene declined all offers of help as he deemed them unacceptable.

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While we apologise if Mr Levene was dissatisfied with the service he received, we are satisfied that our agents and staff did all they could in difficult circumstances.

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