SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — A college baseball player from South Dakota whose prosthetic arm was stolen from his vehicle got it back Tuesday after it was found at a recycling plant.
Augustana’s Parker Hanson, a right-handed pitcher, was born without a left hand, but found a way to adapt at a young age so he could play his favorite game all the way up through the college level. His prosthetic arm and the attachments were in a backpack that was stolen from his unlocked pickup outside his home.
Hanson got a text Tuesday saying that his arm had been recovered at Millennium Recycling Inc. in Sioux Falls, the Sioux Falls Argus Leader reported. A worker at the plant found it among other items in the recycling facility and picked it out.
“The manager walked in and it was sitting on her desk,” Hanson said.
Hanson discovered his backpack missing on May 3 and took to social media to vent his frustrations. The next day the Sioux Falls Police Department recovered a backpack with some of the prosthetic’s attachments near Hanson’s house. At the same time, Hanson’s story became widely shared and people started fundraising for a replacement arm.
Nate Riddle and Tim Kachel were the workers who found Hanson’s arm Monday night while working a shift picking out nonrecyclable items from the line.
They said they’ve seen just about everything mixed in with recyclables, but when Riddle picked out the prosthetic arm, he almost threw it away. Before he got the chance, Kachel stopped him.
“I recognized it instantly,” Kachel said, “I was jumping up and down screaming ‘Stop!’”
Kachel keeps up with news and remembered hearing Hanson’s story. He said he knew what the arm was as soon as he spotted it.
“I had no idea what was going on since he (Kachel) was freaking out, so I throw it over and he gives me the background,” Riddle said.
Riddle was skeptical about Kachel claims but let him turn the arm in to the front office. Then, on Tuesday morning, the pair’s line was paused and everybody was asked to go to the office. There they met Hanson for the first time.
“You never know what you’re going to see coming through this line,” Kachel said. “He (Hanson) was so relieved and excited, he was shaking.”
Hanson said he had lost hope on finding his prosthetic arm and was focused on fundraising for a replacement, then he got the text. While he’s happy to have recovered his missing prosthetic, he won’t be using it anymore.
“It is pretty banged up,” Hanson said. “It’s definitely been through a gauntlet it looks like. We’re still going through with the fundraiser to get a new one plus give back to the charities.”