- Associated Press - Sunday, February 28, 2016

KENNEWICK, Wash. (AP) - Sebastian Salinas didn’t believe it when the Kennewick Police Department called on Feb. 16 offering help after his 20-year-old minivan was stolen and wrecked earlier that day.

It was their sole means of getting their 15-month-old disabled son to Seattle for his regular medical care.

“I’ve never heard of anyone doing anything like that, especially the police,” Salinas told the Herald. “I’ve been disappointed by people in the past who made promises.”

But on Feb. 22, Salinas and his girlfriend Katie Mashburn were handed the keys to a used Suzuki XL7 SUV, thanks to the police department and its community partners.

“I know you didn’t expect this, but there are a lot of people who care about you,” Kennewick Police Chief Ken Hohenberg told Salinas.

The donation to the young family was the culmination of a quick effort on the part of police and the department’s Community Cares Fund, Dave Retter of Windermere Tri-Cities and Dwight and Carmen Marquart of Toyota of the Tri-Cities.

“This is one you just have to help,” Retter told the Herald.

Salinas called in the theft of his Plymouth Voyager at 7:15 a.m. on Feb. 16. Just hours earlier, the family had returned from a trip to Seattle’s Children’s Hospital.

Mashburn said the idea of someone stealing a van with doors that didn’t shut properly and a back hatch that didn’t latch correctly didn’t sink in at first.

“He walked around the block thinking he was so tired he parked it somewhere else,” Mashburn said.

The couple’s oldest child, Rylan, has a brain injury and cerebral palsy, causing him seizures. The family makes regular visits to Seattle for his care.

“Usually it’s every three months but lately it’s been once a month,” Mashburn said, noting Rylan’s seizures have become more frequent.

Not long after Salinas reported the van stolen from their east Kennewick home, witnesses reported a suspicious vehicle at a construction site off Hildebrand Road west of Southridge Boulevard. After confirming it was the stolen van, officers spent the next 40 minutes either chasing or searching for it on Interstate 82 and along city streets.

The van was eventually stopped after it took too hard of a turn and hit a curb at 10th Avenue and Dawes Street. The driver, Nathan D. Rich, 21, of Pasco, was arrested and remains in the Benton County jail on investigation of possessing a stolen vehicle.

Officers initially suggested using the Community Cares Fund, a program that uses private and business donations to help crime victims and others, to repair the van’s front suspension. But fixing the damage was going to cost more than the van was worth, Hohenberg said, so he reached out to Retter for another solution.

Retter said he was at the police station when the chase started and when Hohenberg suggested helping out, he called Dwight Marquart and his daughter, Carmen Marquart, at the dealership.

“It’s one of those situations where Dave calls us or we call Dave and it’s for a good reason and we join in,” Carmen Marquart said.

Carmen Marquart said the Suzuki was a trade-in that passed the dealership’s safety inspection and has a good set of tires. It also has four-wheel drive, something Salinas and Mashburn said will come in handy when crossing Snoqualmie Pass.

For Salinas and Mashburn, they’re just grateful for what it means for Rylan.

“It’s cool, it’s awesome,” Salinas said. “I never expected it.”

___

Information from: Tri-City Herald, https://www.tri-cityherald.com

Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC.

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