ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – The Albany Police Department say the person who took Phiona Williams’ wheelchair has been identified. They say the man allegedly thought it was junk on the curb and scrapped it. The Williams family is not pressing charges.
Police began investigating the theft of a child’s wheelchair from South Ferry Street on Thursday, February 14. It belonged to a little girl who’s already been through a lot.
5th grader Phiona Williams is a pillar of strength, comforting her grandmother as the family faces yet another setback.
“I would have never thought that someone would steal a child’s chair,” said Linda Willaims.
Phiona is in pain. She walks with a limp – the result of being shot twice last September at her Port Wentworth, Georgia home where police say Rocedric Thompson opened fire on Phiona, her mother Monique Williams, and uncle Timothy Williams, before turning the gun on himself. Phiona was the lone survivor.
“She seen her uncle get shot and then she was shot she even had enough sense to pretend to be dead and that’s when he shot himself because he thought she was dead,” said Linda Williams.
Williams is now raising Phiona. They’ve found comfort at Kipp Tech Valley School where Phiona relied on her wheelchair to navigate the long hallways.
“Sometimes my hip be hurting and I’m going to have to come after lunch and get some Tylenol,” said Phiona.
School nurse Beth Sontz has become one of family’s greatest allies.
“When you hear their story, you know how tragic it is, but something about that human spirit with them that you just are compelled to be around them and they give us all hope,” she said.
The inspiration is school-wide.
“She’s really a model for all of us for resilience,” said Executive Director Stephanie Valle.
Valle says Phiona is able to connect with other students who have endured trauma.
“She’s always been the person who’s been able to say to them like we got this, like we can do this,” she said.
So how does she do it?
“I just smile,” said Phiona.
That positive attitude gives Linda, who had to bury her son and only daughter, the strength to move on.
“Having Phiona is being able to start all over,” she said.