Carlsbad amputee wants to replace deteriorating wheelchair

Posted at 6:19 PM, Dec 27, 2016
and last updated 2016-12-28 08:11:39-05

A Carlsbad man who lost his leg and arm in a bad motorcycle crash 20 years ago wants to replace his deteriorating wheelchair. He's had the same wheelchair since 1996, but keeps getting turned down when he asks Medicare for a new one. 

"It's hard to actually just be an observer in a world that has so much to offer," said Michael Durnell. 

Durnell loves hanging out on the beach and loves shooting guns at the range, but he hasn't been able to do those things since his accident.

"I need a wheelchair that can go into the dirt and not get stuck," he said. "Anything with tiny wheels (can't)  go anywhere. 

Beside that, Durnell says his current wheelchair is falling apart.

"The cord is destroyed. I had to replace the end multiple times," he said. 

When Durnell was a senior in high school, an elderly woman fell asleep at the wheel - and slammed into his motorcycle. 

"Impact was 110 miles an hour, I broke my neck in 3 places," said Durnell. "I cracked the entire left side of my skull. My foot was crushed above my knee, my arm was torn off." 

Durnell spent 10 days in a coma and had more than 90 surgeries. Doctors didn't think he'd make it, but he did. Still, he has trouble getting around.

He and his ex-girlfriend have tried getting Medicare to pay for a new wheelchair, but he says Medicare has given him the runaround. 

"The system will say, 'sorry we can't pay for a wheelchair because you can use a prosthetic leg, then they won't pay for a prosthetic leg because I can use a wheelchair,'" he said. 

He's hoping people can help him buy a new custom fit wheelchair so he can get back to doing the things he loves. 

"To be able to look at the beach, you know," he said. "I'd love to swim."

10News has reached out to Medicare but they have not called us back. If you'd like to help Michael get a new wheelchair, you can go donate to: 

Michael Durnell

Supplemental Special Needs Trust

3461 Via Montebello Unit 192

Po Box 421 Carlsbad, CA 92009