Vandal Torches 1970 Ford Mustang Mach 1 Owned by Disabled Child
"When you destroy the happiness and the very thing that a disabled seven-year-old boy loves, it's wicked. It's disgusting," his father said.
Nothing in the world matters more to seven-year-old Nino Welcome than his bright orange 1970 Ford Mustang Mach 1, lovingly restored by his grandfather and given to him as a birthday present in May. It's an escape from the tough reality of living with Lesch–Nyhan syndrome, a rare genetic disorder that leaves the little boy confined to a wheelchair—albeit an awesome wheelchair that was painted to match the car and nicknamed "Mach 2."
But early Thursday morning, some vile scumbag busted one of the Mustang's flap windows, tossed in some fireworks, lit the fuses and fled, leaving the classic car engulfed in flames as it sat parked in Nino's parents' driveway in Springfield, Missouri. Knowing what it meant to Nino and how hard his grandfather must have worked, the pictures of the aftermath are devastating. The car's entire midsection is utterly destroyed.
According to the Springfield News-Leader, a neighbor spotted a "glow" from inside the car at around 3:35 AM and called 911 before alerting the family. Nino's father Brett Welcome tried to douse the flames, but the fire quickly spread from a seat cushion to the entire interior by the time firefighters arrived. Later that day, investigators told Welcome they discovered evidence of fireworks in the Mustang's charred remains.
"Vandalism and things like that aren't random to the people it impacts," Welcome told KY3 News. "It might be funny to throw fireworks into somebody's vehicle but, when you destroy the happiness and the very thing that a disabled seven-year-old boy loves, it's wicked. It's disgusting."
In the interview, Welcome expanded on his son's love for the Mach 1. Nino talks about it constantly, always wants to ride in it, tells strangers about it when he meets them—in other words, the kid practically "define[s] himself" by the car," Welcome said. And even though Nino's physiological and neurological problems mean he'll probably never be able to drive, he falls asleep every night to bedtime stories starring him and his 'Stang on all sorts of wild adventures.
Welcome told the News-Leader that the 351 V8 engine might be worth saving, but frame damage means the whole thing is likely a loss. There are reportedly no leads, and the family is appealing for anyone with information to come forward to police. Despite everything, though, Brett Welcome says his son is taking the situation like a champ.
"Aside from saying some choice words about 'those idiots being in big trouble,' Nino has taken the news like a brave boy. He is sure that we can make it like new," Welcome wrote on Facebook.
And that's the working plan—either bring this car back from the grave, or find a suitable replacement. A GoFundMe account has been set up to help the family make it happen.