Grammer, who is currently studying to receive his teaching certification at Buffalo State College, is Westin’s primary caregiver. The wheelchair Westin relies on to get around was destroyed in the incident.
Westin said she has been buying her own wheelchairs out-of-pocket for the past several years. Insurance had provided wheelchairs when she was a kid but, in high school, she abandoned the chair, hoping to show her teenage independence by using crutches instead. By her third year in college, however, her legs had deteriorated and she applied for an electric wheelchair to help her navigate the University at Buffalo’s sprawling North Campus.
Her request for a powered wheelchair was denied, because she has the use of both of her arms, she said. Later, an insurance paperwork delay failed to secure a manual chair despite Westin’s follow-ups.
“It’s a lot of red tape,” she said.
Discouraged, Westin sought used chairs but, at 4 feet and 10 inches tall, she requires a special, uncommon size. Without a motorized chair, she relies on Grammer to push her if she wants to travel any distance, especially in winter.
Westin doesn’t yet know what lasting damage Grammer sustained when they were hit or what care he’ll require when he’s released from the hospital, and said it all could have been prevented if the sidewalks and curb cuts had been shoveled. The couple travels as close to the curb as possible, but it still puts them in danger, she said.