Channel-crossing quadruple amputee Philippe Croizon has stolen wheelchair returned

A bus driver found the expensive, custom-built chair dumped in a car park, and phoned Mr Croizon after seeing media coverage of the theft

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The Independent Online

The English Channel-crossing quadruple amputee who had his wheelchair stolen in northern France has been reunited with it following an impassioned plea to the media.

Philippe Croizon, 45, spoke of his immense relief after a man called him to say he had handed it over to the police.

Thieves took the disabled athlete’s holiday trailer, containing the £20,000 custom-built all-terrain wheelchair, when he was staying with relatives last Thursday night.

It has now emerged that a bus driver found the wheelchair dumped in a car park on Friday, and held on to it for safe-keeping until he saw the blanket media coverage of the incident on Monday.

Mr Croizon, who lost all four limbs in an electrical accident in 1994, was overwhelmed by the sheer number of well-wishers who had helped spread the word, and was even contacted by Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault.

He told BFM television: “Thursday morning I'll be at the police station in Dieppe to get my wheelchair back. It's a big, big relief ... All's well that ends well.”

On Sunday Mr Croizon told reporters from the AFP news agency that the thieves “stole his autonomy”, and said: “Let them keep the trailer if they want it but at least give me back the wheelchair.”

The 45-year-old is a famous figure in the world of athletic sport, having taken up swimming after his accident and training with the French marine police.

Following the 20,000-volt electric shock in March 1994, former steelworker Mr Croizon had both his legs amputated above the knee, his left arm removed above the elbow, and his right arm removed below the elbow.

In September 2010 he became the first quadruple amputee to swim across the English Channel, completing the crossing in less than 14 hours.

In 2012, he swam four straits separating five continents, including a crossing of the Bering Strait between Asia and North America in near-freezing temperatures.

Today Mr Croizon wrote on Twitter: ”A special thought to all my handicapped friends who are struggling today without a wheelchair. Let's not forget them.”