Queens paraplegic was stranded by lemon of a scooter — until he called Arnold Diaz

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JAMAICA, Queens — “It was horrible. I didn’t know what to do with myself, “ says Robert Cruz from Jamaica, Queens, describing the accident that left him a paraplegic at the age of 16. “I cried a lot. Then something clicked telling me my life was not over.”

Cruz , now 50, built a life centered around his music talent.  His apartment, in church-sponsored housing, is filled with musical consoles, turntables, and the other equipment D.J.'s use to mix music. Cruz is also an avid collector of everything from sports action figures and cartoon characters to old boom boxes.  “I do my own thing now. I’m my own man.”

But as a paraplegic, Cruz is dependent on his wheelchair to get around. “Without the chair I can’t do anything”, he says.  It is a standard manual chair that is too heavy for him to push on his own.  He needs the help of his home health aide who is with him during the day.

That’s why last year, he and his mother decided to buy a motorized scooter. They went to the website for SpinLife, and bought a brand new Victory Sport Scooter.  It was expensive, almost $2200, but it had the potential to make a big difference in Cruz’s life.  He could operate it by himself. No need for anyone to push him.

However, Cruz had problems with the scooter’s battery and charger right from the beginning. “The third day I got stuck outside with it. That’s when I was like this is a nightmare now. Now I’m stuck out in the street and I’m like two blocks and away and I have to start begging people to help me get home on that thing.”

At least five times, he called SpinLife and repairmen came to try and fix the scooter.  “They change the batteries, they give me a new charger, they say this should fix the problem and I go through the problem again. I’m calling them another week.”

Finally, a few months ago, the company took the chair back to the factory to work on it.  Cruz’s mother kept calling to see when they might get it back, but couldn’t get a definitive answer.  Cruz wanted a new chair, but says “They wouldn’t  give me a new chair for nothing”.

That’s when Cruz and his mother reached out to PIX11 Investigates for help. After hearing his story, we called SpinLife, which investigated what happened with the chair.

A company executive issued a statement saying, in part, “We appreciate the opportunity that WPIX gave us to make this right for our Customer and will be happy to help Mr. Cruz.”

Rather than continue to try and fix the original chair, SpinLife decided to give Robert a new chair. “Although we were disappointed that this did not resolve in a timely manner, SpinLife  is thrilled that Mr. Cruz will the enjoy the quality product he should expect.”

After hearing from SpinLife, I told Cruz,  “I have good news for you. They told us they’re sending a brand new chair.”

Cruz said: “We did the right thing by calling you.”

“You deserve to have this”, I told him. Cruz agreed: “I need it. I need it so much too.”

The new chair is being shipped to his home and we will return to show Cruz taking a spin outside in his scooter that will add the element of independence to his life that he has been longing for.