Stolen car returned to family of sick girl: Car taken from Rady Children's Hospital

Avery Hanel battling rare form of leukemia

SAN DIEGO - A stolen car was returned to a North County family after it was taken from Rady Children's Hospital last week.

10News reported last week about two-year-old Avery Hanel, who is battling a rare form of leukemia. Her parent's white, four-door Honda was stolen from the hospital's parking structure.

This past weekend,  San Diego police personally returned the car to the family after it was discovered just a few miles away in a Mission Valley parking garage.

 “Who would ever thought less than 24 hours to have your vehicle back,” Peter Hanel, Avery’s father told 10News.

Last week, Alexandrea Upton, Avery's mother, told 10News Friday that the car was full of toys that were supposed to be given to her daughter.

"It makes me sick. It really does," said Upton. "Out of all places and of all cars, they chose this one."

The toys were gifts to help Avery's recovery from a recent stem cell transplant.

Avery has JMML, a type of leukemia where blood cells do not produce mature cells needed for growth.

“[In the] middle of the night,  like 2:30 a.m., [we] get a phone call from the San Diego Police Department saying they have found our vehicle," said Hanel. “We thought it was long gone, Mexico-bound, chop shop. Gone."

San Diego Police personally returned the car to the family at the hospital. But the car was emptied out.

“The stereo is gone…all our stuff hanging from our mirror…empty box,” Peter said as he showed us how the inside of the car had been cleaned out.

The toys, a car seat and remote control cars were also taken from the trunk.

But to Hanel, the stolen items can be replaced. He said his family is just happy to get their car back  and be able to get the care they need for Avery.

After our initial story aired, 10News viewers called offering to help. 

Some wanted to donate toys and three people offered the use of their cars.

The family said they're grateful for the community's support.       

“That really hits home, that people in the community are thinking about so many people in distress,” said Hanel. “Just for us, a little family here, it just is overwhelming."

To help Avery, log on to  Toys are also being accepted by the family, but they need to be new, wrapped toys because of Avery’s condition.

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