Vandals destroyed a disabled Missouri boy’s prized possession, his 1970 Mach 1 Ford Mustang that had been lovingly restored by the boy’s grandfather. The classic car is now a burned-out heap thanks to hooligans setting it on fire.
As The Springfield News-Leader reported, seven-year-old Nino Welcome, of Springfield, couldn’t actually drive the Mustang; he’s seven, after all. What’s more, odds are that he’ll never drive any car, as he has a debilitating medical condition – Lesch-Nyhan Syndrome – that prevents him from walking or using his legs.
Nevertheless, that hasn’t stopped him from being a car enthusiast. And back in May, Nino’s grandfather, Fred Welcome, presented him with the ultimate birthday gift: the orange-and-black Mustang that he (Grandpa) had personally restored.
Nino’s dad, Brett Welcome, says that the car was all Nino could talk about.
“When I get home from work he asks me if we need to go to the store. He asks, ‘Can we take the Mustang?'”
In fact, Nino even had his wheelchair painted orange and black, to match his Mustang. He nicknamed his wheelchair “Mach II.”
However, early Thursday morning last week, Welcome was jarred out of bed by his dog barking. When he went outside to see what was going on, he saw his son’s beloved car burning.
Police say that the vandals opened up a small window in the car and threw a firework inside (fireworks are legal in Missouri).
“It was at that point that it registered that I was hearing fireworks. Bang! Bang! It did not occur to me to go and grab the fire hose — maybe because it was 3:30 a.m.”
By the time the fire department arrived, the car was destroyed. Fortunately, it didn’t explode. No other property, including the family’s other vehicles, their home, or any neighbors’ vehicles or homes, were damaged in the fire.
Police say that it’s almost impossible to find the culprit in a crime like this, and are asking the public for their help in finding the culprit or culprits.
In the meantime, Brett and his family are trying to determine if Nino’s car can be salvaged. This rarest and most expensive part of the car is its 8-cylinder 351 engine. If that’s salvageable, they can work around it and possibly restore the rest of the car, valued at between $30,000 and $40,000.
For now, Nino’s parents are telling the young lad that sometimes bad people do bad things. They haven’t told him the extent of the damage, and because of his developmental disabilities he’s unlikely to understand anyway. They’ve covered the burned-out hull of the car with a tarp so he won’t notice it.
“[We told him] that we are going to put it in the shop and get it back new and improved.”
Anyone with any information about this crime is asked to contact the Springfield Police Department at (417) 864-1810.