Police search for suspect who totaled disabled victim's van

Keith Rush relies on his wheelchair-accessible van to get everywhere. That van was stolen from him on the day of his grandfather's funeral. (WRDW-TV / Aug. 16, 2012)

Keith Rush relies on his wheelchair-accessible van to get everywhere. That van was stolen from him on the day of his grandfather's funeral. (WRDW-TV / Aug. 16, 2012)

News 12 First at Five / Friday, Aug. 17, 2012

NORTH AUGUSTA, S.C. -- North Augusta Public Safety officers are looking for the man who stole a wheelchair-accessible van and led them on a high-speed chase.

It started on the 300 block of Bel Air Road and ended not too far away on Edits Drive. The crime happened around 10 a.m. Tuesday morning as the victim was getting ready for his grandfather's funeral.

That victim is part of our News 12 family.

Keith Rush is determined to walk again, but for now, he relies on wheels to get around. However, he doesn't just depend on his chair. He needs a van, too, now that his is totaled.

"Somebody took it," Rush said. "I was mad at first, but I'm not mad no more."

He was getting ready for his grandfather's funeral when someone broke into his van and drove away. A neighbor called 911, so when Rush's mom came to pick him up, the police were already on scene.

"I'm thinking ... the van," Janice Rush said. "It has his wheelchair in it. How am I going to get him to the funeral?"

Then she wondered how she was going to get him to appointments and therapy. She worried her son who had come so far would not be able to go anywhere now.

"Why put him through this? He's been through so much," she said.

Keith, or Krusher as we call him, was the chief photographer at News 12 for years. He's the big man behind the camera with the big heart, and we watched him shrink before our very eyes.

"I lost 162 pounds. That's a whole person. Wow, " said Krusher in a 2009 interview.

Instead of shooting the story, Krusher became the story. We watched our 6'8" teddy bear drop weight and keep it off. He inspired us, so we shared his story with you.

"Now, I'm feeling fine in '09. It's hard trying to be skinny. I just want to preserve the sexy," Krusher laughed during that 2009 interview.

That laugh is something we miss hearing in the News 12 newsroom. He had to quit working here when he had three strokes. He was only 27 years old.

Today, he's still got that same sense of humor.

"Are you still preserving the sexy?" asked News 12's Meredith Anderson.

"Yeah, still preserving the sexy," Krusher replied.

For several years now, Krusher has been working hard to recover and losing his van is a major setback.

But Krusher refuses to let it get him down.

Same goes for his mother, who now has two reasons to smile. That same day of the funeral and the crime, her daughter gave birth to twins.

"Out of the tragedy of my dad passing and the frustration of someone taking something from us, we still have joy. Twins. A boy and a girl. T.J. and Aubrey."

Krusher's smiling about his new niece and nephew, too.

North Augusta Public Safety officers are still looking for the suspect. They don't have a lot of information other than he's a light-skinned black male between 5'6" and 5'8". He was wearing jeans and a white T-shirt.


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