A paraplegic athlete is reportedly suing Luton Airport after his wheelchair was left on a flight and he was forced to drag himself through the terminal building. Reports state that the athlete, identified as Justin Levene, was left “humiliated and degraded” when he found out that the airport workers had left his custom-made self-propelling wheelchair on a flight.
Levene reportedly suffered a herniated disc and nerve damage at the age of 21 when he collapsed while coughing, just two days before his birthday. The incident left him unable to walk, however, he refused to let his disability define his life and went on to compete as an international wheelchair athlete, according to the Daily Mail.
Reports state that after Levene was informed that his wheelchair had not arrived, the airport staff offered to push him through the terminal in a wheelchair. However, he did not take that offer, saying that it would have meant that he would be strapped down and would not be able to adjust himself.
A video of the incident was taken by Levene’s friend on his mobile phone, which showed the athlete dragging himself through the airport terminal by his arms. He eventually sat up on a baggage trolley.Levene has now decided to sue Luton Airport, saying that he was denied his independence by the airport authorities’ offer to transport him. He also added that their actions were discriminatory. “I was angry that none of the staff seemed to understand the position or seemed to have any empathy for what was happening,” Levene said while talking to BBC.
Paraplegic athlete Justin Levene ‘forced’ to drag himself through Luton Airport after wheelchair was left behind on flight
Reports state that Levene’s lawsuit is primarily centered on whether it is enough for companies to offer to transport disabled customer or they should instead offer them independent means through which they can move around the premises of the establishment.
Luton Airport’s spokesperson also issued a statement apologizing for the incident, however, added that the staff did all they could considering the circumstances. “On discovering that Mr Levene’s flight from Croatia had arrived without his wheelchair, in August 2017, 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. Whilst we apologize 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,” the airport spokesperson said.