Quadriplegic woman needs new modified van after crash

(WSVN) - A South Florida woman needs a $50,000 holiday miracle after her modified mini-van was totaled in a crash.

Valerie Joseph uses a wheelchair in order to stay mobile despite her spinal cord tumor, and before November, she also used a modified 2004 Toyota Sienna van.

“I have hand controls and a computer system for me to start the vehicle and turn it off and control the vehicle,” Joseph said.

Valerie and her co-worker, Sharon Ahumada Cardona, went out for lunch, Nov. 8, and were rear-ended.

“We stopped at a red light at an intersection and the next thing we know,” Cardona said, “we got hit in the back, and the van moved into the middle of the intersection.”

Joseph thought her van would be fixable, but an inspection found irreparable damage.

“At first, I didn’t think it was that bad because we were still able to move,” Joseph said, “But after it was inspected, they found that the floor of the van was bent, and when that happens, it’s irreparable.”

The insurance company is reimbursing Joseph $25,000, but buying another van with the modifications she needs would cost three times that.

“I don’t have the ability to get in and out of a vehicle like other people do,” Joseph said, “so it’s very limiting.”

A GoFundMe page has been set up to help raise the money needed for another van.

“The van is very important to Valerie,” Cardona said. “It’s totally and absolutely her independence.”

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