SALEM, Ore. (KOIN) — A device that helps an 11-year-old boy with Down Syndrome communicate was stolen at a school bus stop Thursday in Salem.
The augmented device helps Gabriel connect with his friends and teachers. His father, Louis Montemayor, told KOIN 6 News the device allows Gabriel to communicate because he’s non-verbal.
But the device was stolen while Louis and Gabriel were waiting for the bus to take the young boy to school. Louis said they stepped just feet away from Gabriel’s backpack that contained the device; when he turned around, the backpack was gone.
The theft is a huge blow to the family.
“He stops learning. We got to go back to doing more signs and everything,” said Louis.
Louis said the device looks like an iPad and cost $7,000. But he simply can’t afford to replace it on their fixed income.
Since the backpack went missing at a school bus stop, Louis is hopeful that another parent picked it up and will return it.
On Saturday, Louis told KOIN 6 News that Gabriel’s older sister raised enough money and ordered a new speech device for him. That will arrive next week. Louis said if the old device is returned they will donate it to another child who needs it.
Louis added he is grateful for “all the love and concern from the bottom of my heart.”
Salem police are investigating the theft. If you know anything about this incident, please call 503.588.6123.Remember to follow KOIN 6 News on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Download our free news and weather apps for the latest headlines and forecast information.