Man takes wheelchair to work each day — and he's been hit. Want to help get him a van?

Tony Judnich
Northwest Florida Daily News

CRESTVIEW — Some of David Newcomb’s big-hearted friends want to help him see his daughter more often and get to and from his job safely.

Newcomb, 36, of Crestview, “is bound to a wheelchair, but that doesn’t stop him,” some of his friends said on the page of a GoFundMe campaign they recently established to assist him.

“Growing up, David lived in Arkansas and joined the Navy at the age of 18,” they said. “He attended boot camp in Great Lakes, Chicago. During boot camp, David started having issues with one of his legs. He eventually got discharged for medical reasons. Three years later, he was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.”

Newcomb has used a wheelchair for mobility since his 21st birthday in 2006, when he lost all function in both legs, his friends said. He received disability, but because the benefits were not enough to pay his bills and take care of his daughter, Melina, he had to find a job.

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David Newcomb is seen with his 7-year-old daughter, Melina. The Crestview man had been using his electric wheelchair to get to his job, but it was damaged recently in a storm.

Newcomb has lived in Crestview for 15 years and has worked at Pizza Hut for almost a decade. Until recently, his only mode of transportation was his lighted and motorized wheelchair.

About six months ago, Pizza Hut relocated from a plaza next to Stillwell Boulevard to one next to East Redstone Avenue.

His commute to work by wheelchair went from a few blocks that he covered in about 5 minutes to more than a mile that takes about an hour.

“In that hour, he has to cross multiple dangerous intersections and roads, worry about getting rained on, extreme Florida temperatures, etc.,” his friends said on the GoFundMe page.

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In 2008, Newcomb was hit by a car just south of the downtown intersection of U.S. Highway 90 and State Road 85. Newcomb said Tuesday that the car’s driver hadn’t seen him because a tree blocked her view.

In 2017, while trying to return home from work, he was struck by a hit-and-run driver on Stillwell Boulevard. That crash destroyed Newcomb’s motorized wheelchair.

Last week, his latest motorized wheelchair broke down in a rainstorm, and he now is relying on cab rides.

On the GoFundMe page, Newcomb’s friends said his daughter, who is 7 and lives in Pensacola, is his reason for living.

“But due to transportation issues, David is unable to see her as much as he would like to,” they said. “She is the only family David has that lives locally. When Melina comes to visit, she has to ride on his lap or walk beside him to go anywhere together.”

Through GoFundMe, Newcomb’s friends are raising money in hopes of purchasing a safe and reliable vehicle for him.

“We think that this could open many doors for David by allowing him to be able to see his daughter more, providing him with a safe way to work, or even possibly finding a different job/career,” his friends said on the fundraiser page.

They aim to raise $30,000 to buy a van for Newcomb and help him get his driver’s license, tax, tag, title and a year’s worth of car insurance. Any leftover funds would be used in relation to the vehicle and/or medical expenses.

As of Tuesday, the GoFundMe campaign had raised almost $13,000.

“I feel blessed,” Newcomb said of the love and support of friends and donors. “Having people care for me makes me happy.”

To make a donation, visit https://www.gofundme.com/f/helpdavidnewcomb?utm_campaign=p_cp+share-sheet&utm_medium=copy_link_all&utm_source=customer.