Is one wheelchair enough for Neptune Beach handicapped?

NEPTUNE BEACH, Fla. -- Melissa Young, 38, loves the sunshine and sandy beaches. She was left paralyzed by a 2010 traffic accident, but that has not quenched her thirst for the salty air.

"I think we should be able to live a normal life," said Young," because we don't have accessible wheelchairs at the beach."

A few weekends ago she went to the Neptune Beach Lifeguard station and left in disbelief.

"I asked the lifeguard if they had a wheelchair for the handicapped and he said 'no, it is broken and has been broken a year'," 'said Young.

She has always had a positive attitude about life and refuses to point fingers but can't believe the beach community has such a void.

"I don't think it is the lifeguard's fault," said Young. " I think the community needs to help us."

The Neptune Beach Police Department is responsible for the lifeguards and the wheelchairs.

"It is quite possible she did not assume wrong," said David Sembach. "It is quite possible she was told wrong."

Chief Sembach said there are two wheelchairs at the Neptune Beach lifeguard station, but only one is working.

I don't know if she was there when it was being used and the lifeguard she spoke to didn't know that," he said.

The city has to buy the chairs and the newest one was donated to Neptune Beach.

Sembach said this summer they hope to add one more.

"They are in use constantly," he said. "And they're on a first come, first serve basis."

Young plans to return to the beach and hopes there's a wheelchair she can use to access the beach.

"I don't think we should have just one," said Young.


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