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Plea made for seven-year-old's special needs tricycle

July 19, 2012|By DAN DEARTH | dan.dearth@herald-mail.com
  • This photo shows the missing tricycle and Ethan Paugh.
Submitted photo

Seven-year-old Ethan Paugh hasn’t been able to ride a tricycle since his went missing near his Hagerstown home last month.

Ethan’s grandmother, Tammy Paugh, said the $8,000 tricycle was specially made for Ethan to help build his leg muscles.

She said Ethan suffers from Prader-Willi, a syndrome that, among other things, causes obesity and reduced muscle tone.

“When he was born, he had failure to thrive — no muscle tone,” Tammy Paugh said. “He couldn’t eat because he didn’t have the muscle development in his mouth to swallow.”

She said unlike most people, Ethan can’t tell when he has had enough to eat. As a result, the family has to keep locks on the refrigerator and cupboards.

The 8-foot-long tricycle had a special seat and restraints to ensure Ethan wouldn’t fall off, his grandmother said. It also had a suspension system and turn signals.  

Hagerstown Police Department Detective Tony Fleegal said a 5-year-old female relative of Ethan’s took the tricycle when no one was watching and rode it down a hill near the Paughs’ Church Street home.

“She couldn’t push it back up,” Fleegal said.

He said the girl eventually told the family what she had done, but the tricycle was gone when they went to get it.

Tammy Paugh said Ethan had the tricycle for only 10 days before it disappeared June 30. They heard reports that it had been painted from orange to black, she said, but they haven’t been able to find it after several searches.

“You have to know that you can’t go to the store and buy a bike like that,” Tammy Paugh said. “They had to know it was for someone with a disability. They need to know what he’s been through and what he’s going to go through in the future. That bike is going to be a big part of his life.”

Anyone with information may call the Hagerstown Police Department at 301-790-3700.

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