COLORADO SPRINGS — UPDATE:
TSgt Kathleen McConnell says a cyclist found her wallet on the side of a road near the Section 16 Trailhead, but it only contained her license and debit card. Levi's military dependent ID was not found.
According to those with the Colorado Springs Police Department, 3,235 vehicles have been burglarized in the city through September of this year. Many of those crimes happen at trailheads.
One local Air Force family says when their car was broken into on Sunday afternoon at Garden of the Gods, more was stolen than money and belongings. A memory was taken from them.
I see the beautiful boy he was, but the hardest thing is seeing the beautiful young man he was going to be.
TSgt Kathleen McConnell said she has been in the Air Force for over 14 years, spending the past three years in Colorado Springs. One of her four children, Levi, was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer when he was 11-years-old. "We actually called him Levi the Conqueror... When he was diagnosed last July with diffuse midline glioma, a terminal brain cancer, that nickname became more important than ever," TSgt McConnell explained.
Levi turned 13 on September 16 of this year and passed away less than two weeks later. His mom said after his last MRI, when doctors told the family he did not have very long, they decided to bring him home because he hated hospitals. His parents cared for him for around six weeks before he died. "It was traumatizing for my husband and I, because Levi passed in our arms, and we had to help him, we had to guide him through that," said TSgt McConnell.
TSgt McConnell said there is no way to prepare for watching one's child actively fight for their lives. "When we told him, no more doctor visits. He was so happy. No more pokes. And he was happy. We didn't tell him he was dying. He knew that," she said with tears in her eyes.
On Sunday of this week, TSgt McConnell said a cousin visited for the first time since Levi passed. They went to Garden of the Gods around 3:30 in the afternoon, and were away from the car for no more than a half hour. "It was crowded, fairly crowded, a lot of people around. And we just felt too secure... We went and took a little walk to go see all the rocks, watching the kids climb it, and the whole time we were there I was just feeling this sadness over me because the last time we were at Garden of the Gods, we went and took family photos with my son, knowing that was probably the last time we would ever take family photos with him," said TSgt McConnell.
When they returned to their car, TSgt McConnell said the front passenger window had been smashed and her purse was stolen. "Cards were canceled, banks were notified, and then it hit me yesterday that my son's military dependent ID was still in my wallet... Just realizing that my son's ID was now some place else, and not with me. It was a very harsh reminder that he was gone," said TSgt McConnell.
More than anything, TSgt McConnell said she wants her son's military dependent ID back. "If someone wants to drop off the wallet, no questions asked, just bring it to a substation. We will take it, we will get it back to the right person," said Officer Chris Ausec, a crime prevention officer with the Colorado Springs Police Department.
If someone has the military dependent ID, the name printed on it is "Levi Sao." The family said getting it back would mean the world to them.
Despite the theft of Levi's military dependent ID being a "stark and harsh reminder of his absence," his mother says she still feels his presence. She said she promised Levi several things when he died. One of them was helping other families going through similar situations.