Yet another hope-dashing loss of Mississippi State University's football team was not the only tragedy to occur in Davis Wade Stadium this Saturday.
A student stole a Hoverbound Mobility Scooter from a disabled American veteran attending the game. The student then rode it out of the stadium towards the Cotton District. Another student was found driving the scooter and was charged with a DUI, although he was discovered not to have been responsible for the initial theft of the scooter.
The identity of the student who stole the scooter was unknown for a period of time, and the MSU Police Department and Starkville Police Department shared surveillance camera footage on their social media platforms requesting help in locating the culprit.
William Fryery, the owner of the scooter, said he did not press charges against the student arrested for DUI but planned to press charges against the student responsible for stealing his scooter.
"When it was located three hours later by the Starkville Police Department, this young man was in possession of it, but he just happened to be there when someone dropped it off. He was not the culprit that stole it, so I'm not pressing any charges against him because I would love to know who the hell got my damn scooter," Fryery said.
Fryery, a Vietnam War veteran and 1963 MSU graduate who has not missed a home football game in years, said he parked his scooter at the bottom of the ramp where he normally does. When he came back after the game, it was gone. Fryery contacted campus security, and they filed a report with MSU PD for the stolen property.
"Right after the report came, we were told the direction of travel was they left the stadium and turned left on Barr, so we immediately started checking the stadium cameras, and around the amphitheater and the wood bridge and all, looking to see if we could track this guy and see where he might be headed and apprehend him as quickly as possible," said Chief Vance Rice of the MSU PD.
Fryery had to be carried back to his car by game security. He said he then searched around campus and Starkville for his scooter for several hours before heading back to his home town of Louisville. As he was on his way out of town, Starkville PD called him and let him know they had recovered the scooter. However, the scooter had suffered damage that rendered it unusable.
"The extensive damage totaled it out," Fryery said.
Brandon Lovelady, Starkville PD's public information officer, confirmed there was damage noted in the report of the officers who found the scooter.
Sam McDevitt, an MSU graduate student studying electrical and computer engineering, reported seeing a scooter in the bushes next to the pedestrian bridge on University Drive when he and his friends were walking back from the game.
The scooter was then found by Starkville PD officers at the corner of University Drive and Maxwell Street in the Cotton District being ridden by an intoxicated student. The student was not the same student who initially stole the vehicle.
"We already knew that that scooter was being looked for, and the people working down in the Cotton District noticed something that looked like a scooter in the bike lane driving erratically from the direction of campus," Lovelady said.
Mauri Wilson, an MSU senior studying communication, said she was at a bar in the Cotton District when she and her friends saw a student whiz by on a scooter.
"I literally saw him just go straight by heading towards the Vista," Wilson said.
Wilson said the sight was initially very funny but later learned the full story.
"I feel so bad because me and my friends were like, 'Oh my God — that was that dude — wait, that's so sad that he took that from him,'" Wilson said.
On Wednesday, several days after the initial incident, MSU PD tweeted the "case of the stolen scooter has been solved." MSU PD Chief Rice confirmed that the student responsible for stealing the vehicle had been found.