An Okotoks man is back in the Foothills after being left alone in the middle of the night in New York City. 

Zak Madell has been wheelchair bound since 2004 after a staph infection took his fingers and legs. 

After becoming a paralympic athlete and winning a gold medal with his wheelchair rugby team at the Toronto 2015 Parapan American Games, he decided to take some time for himself. 

Madell jumped on an airplane and was off to the Big Apple.

After finally getting to his hotel at around 8 p.m., he was ready to settle in to the International Student Residence in Brooklyn.  

Madell had booked a five-night stay at the two-story dorm-style residence because the $277 US price was affordable.

But when Madell, carrying a backpack and a duffel bag on his lap, rolled his wheelchair up to the front desk, the woman behind the counter “looked confused.” She told Madell he could not stay at the hostel because it wasn’t wheelchair-accessible.

Usually this isn't a problem for Zak, as he always has his prosthetic legs with him and can get in and out of places with no hassle.

However, the woman behind the desk made a phone call, looked back at Madell, and told him he couldn't stay. 

"I've travelled the world on my own, stayed in hostels that are quite often not accesible. I had my legs and I would have gotten up there. I kept asking her for a legitimate reason why I couldn't stay." 

Madell adds "I was far from happy, but I tracked some friends down in Manhattan and went down to stay with them." 

Madell plans to talk with the New York Human Rights Commission to ensure that any other people with wheelchairs do not encounter the same problem. 

"I just want my deposit back and an apology." 


Send us your news tips, story ideas and comments at [email protected]

More Local News

National Impaired Driving Prevention Week Wraps Up

The week of March 17th-23rd is National Impaired Driving Prevention Week. The Federal Government and RCMP are working to educate Albertans on impaired driving of all kinds in order to prevent such… is High River's only source for community news and information such as weather and classifieds.

Search the Biz Guide