Stolen computer, used by St. Paul woman to communicate, is found and returnedThe St. Paul family of a brain-injured woman celebrated its latest miracle Monday: A man found and returned a stolen computer that linked her to the outside world.
By: Mara H. Gottfried, St. Paul Pioneer Press / MCT
The St. Paul family of a brain-injured woman celebrated its latest miracle Monday: A man found and returned a stolen computer that linked her to the outside world.
The computer, valued at $7,800, was taken Friday morning, and the man said he discovered it in his yard about four blocks away, according to Vicki Swenson. Her 38-year-old daughter, Lynda Swenson, uses the device to communicate because she is unable to speak.
"Oh my gosh, we just screamed," Vicki Swenson said. "We were so excited. What a miracle."
The man found the computer in his yard and had it for a couple of days, Vicki Swenson said. When the machine is turned on, she explained, it says, "My name is Lynda Swenson" and shows the family’s address.
Lynda Swenson suffered a brain injury at age 6 in a St. Paul car crash, and the computer is her lifeline. Programmed with words and phrases, it speaks them aloud when she pushes the appropriate buttons.
After the 1979 accident, in which Lynda’s baby sitter hit a tree and the girl was crushed under the dashboard, "she almost died," Vicki Swenson said.
"They didn’t give her even a 10 percent chance of living," she said. "She was in the hospital for months. She had a lot of miracles."
Lynda Swenson can walk with a transfer belt, though she uses a wheelchair for longer distances, her mother said.
Just before a bus came to their home Friday to take Lynda Swenson to Midwest Special Services in St. Paul, her mother set down a bag containing the computer outside the house.
"It’s so heavy for me to carry and then to take her because I have to hold her by her transfer belt and walk her down," said Vicki Swenson, 71. "I can’t carry that heavy thing and her because I’m afraid I’ll fall, because she doesn’t walk that great."
The bag, with the computer inside, was stolen about 9 a.m. Friday from the 1600 block of Birmingham Street. Vicki Swenson called police after she realized it was missing.
Police will continue to investigate the theft, a spokesman said.