An Armstrong woman, an amputee who lost her leg below her knee several years ago, says she was verbally and physically assaulted by a man who couldn’t see her disability as she tried to park in a handicap spot at Vernon’s Walmart Saturday, April 24. (Roger Knox - Morning Star)

An Armstrong woman, an amputee who lost her leg below her knee several years ago, says she was verbally and physically assaulted by a man who couldn’t see her disability as she tried to park in a handicap spot at Vernon’s Walmart Saturday, April 24. (Roger Knox - Morning Star)

Okanagan amputee assaulted over handicap parking spot

Armstrong woman with prosthetic leg says she was verbally attacked and spat upon by man who couldn’t see her disability as she tried to park in Vernon store’s handicap space

All Chelaine McInroy wanted at Vernon’s Walmart on a Saturday afternoon stop was to get groceries.

What she got instead, McInroy says, was harassed, verbally assaulted, and spat in her face.

The Armstrong amputee was parking in a handicap spot with a valid parking pass when she says a man came “storming over, screeching at me through my open window about how I clearly wasn’t disabled, that I was just faking it and taking the spot away from someone who truly needs it.”

McInroy shared her story on a Vernon and area community forum page on Facebook.

“He then spat in my face and took off,” said McInroy, 27, who lost her leg below her knee a few years ago.

The incident left McInroy shaken, but otherwise alright, though she now has to worry about exposure to COVID and other transmittable diseases after being spat upon with some of the spit landing in her eye.

“All because I was sitting in my car, and this man couldn’t see my disability,” said McInroy. “I am lucky in that my disability is usually visible (although of course not obvious to this man as I was sitting in my car and the prosthetic was not visible to him), but there are tons of disabilities that aren’t visible.

“That does not give anyone the right to harshly judge others, and it sure as hell is never OK to assault someone like that. Because that is what it is – assault.”

McInroy filed a police report but believes nothing will come of the incident as she said security cameras didn’t catch anything, and she said she was in a state of shock at the audacity of the suspect that she didn’t get a good physical description of the man.

“I beg of you all, if you see something like that happen, step in and help. Or at the very least, take note of the details so hopefully, the person can later be held accountable,” she said, adding that a few people “turned a blind eye and walked away.” “Incidents like this are not as uncommon as you’d think. But they are so wrong, and if nobody ever does anything, it will continue to happen.

“So please, keep an open mind and know that there are a lot of things going on that you might not see or understand, but that does not give you the right to judge and act like that. And if you happen to witness a similar event, do something. The world needs more kindness, especially during these trying times.”

McInroy says she has had a few people glare and/or say some nasty things over parking to her, but it’s never progressed to physical assault before. She says she has been physically assaulted in public before though due to her disability, just not over parking. She also has a service dog who’s been kicked twice before, two separate times.

Her story on Facebook, as of Sunday afternoon, had drawn more than 360 reactions and 120 comments.

READ MORE: Armstrong rallies for athlete

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