Officers buy hit-and-run victim a new wheelchair to aid her recovery

HAMMOND, Indiana — Jean Baikauskas was taking her wheelchair across the street near 165th Street and Calumet Avenue in Hammond, Indiana in September of 2018 when a white Impala ran through a light and slammed into her.

At the time, Jean was using a wheelchair as she recovered from a leg injury. She was just beginning to walk again thanks to physical therapy, she says, when the hit-and-run accident dealt a blow to her recovery.

Her wheelchair was mangled in the crash, so Jean had to use a walker to get around as she went through three more months of therapy. The walker helped, but she couldn't get very far. Seeing her friend in need, Lake County dispatcher Kerri Alanza told officers about her predicament.

“It really tugged on our heart strings that one of our residents needed help and endured so much pain. We jumped on board right away and that’s what community is about,” said Michael Elkmann, President of Hammond FOP Lodge 51.

So Hammond police officers, together with FOP Lodge 51, provided Jean with a brand new wheelchair.

“They're on a limited budget like a lot of us are so this donation was fantastic,” Alanza said.

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