Floating wheelchair allows woman to feel the ocean for first time in 34 years

HAMPTON, Va. (WAVY) — For the first time in 34 years, a Hampton woman felt the rush of the ocean water Thursday.

Ellen Shackleford hasn’t been at the beach since she was injured in a car crash that left her wheelchair bound.

Earlier this year, the City of Hampton made Buckroe Beach wheelchair accessible. Special pathways accommodate wheelchairs, strollers and wagons.

“I have not been able to go to a beach because there’s no accessibility to the beach, not even to the sand,” Shackleford said. “Now we have this wonderful mat and this wonderful chair, I can actually do that now.”

On Thursday, Shackleford got to experience the water again. She was the first passenger in Hampton’s new floating wheelchair.

“It allows them to go anywhere on the beach and actually into the water,” said Kevin Myers of the Hampton Parks Department.

“I’m beside myself, I really am. I’m actually feeling beach water,” Shackleford said with joy.

The parks department is set to receive four more floating wheelchairs by next summer.