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Woman who lost apartment in Westbury fire rebuilding life, but struggling without handicap vehicle

One-year anniversary of fire is in July
Posted at 5:01 PM, Jun 10, 2019
and last updated 2019-06-11 00:15:14-04

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LAFAYETTE, Colo. -- Every time Kristen Bering smells smoke she has flashbacks from the fire that nearly claimed her life last July. She was living at the Westbury Apartments when someone set the building on fire. Two residents did not make it out.

Bering and her 10-year-old son have been working to rebuild their lives but they have faced a number of setbacks along the way. It was a struggle to find another Section 8 apartment that was handicap-accessible, so Bering spent four months living in a motel. She was hopeful that things were beginning to turn around when she moved into a new place on Oct. 1.

"I love our new place, it’s just wonderful," Bering told Contact7 as she pointed the apartment is handicap accessible.

Bering is a double-amputee with end-stage kidney disease and uses a motorized wheelchair to get around. She can navigate her new home with ease but it's difficult getting in and out of her van.

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The van hasn't been a top priority for Bering; she's had a difficult year. Her daughter passed away unexpectedly in April.

"She was my rock, my everything and she always had my back. Anytime I needed anything she would help me get it," said Bering.

A month later, several medical issues put Bering in the hospital for nine days, including five in the Intensive Care Unit. She was recently released and is looking forward to spending the summer with her son – but the van is hampering their plans.

Bering demonstrated how she has to pull herself into the van and then drag her wheelchair in after her. The van is not handicap-accessible and now that's she is on oxygen, it's getting more difficult to get in and out of the van.

"It’s really hard for me. I get winded real fast and I get tired real fast," said Bering. "It just takes a lot of energy just to get into the van, let alone drive and go to places and push yourself around all day.”

She's been struggling with finances ever since the fire. It was expensive to stay in the motel for months and then she had to pay for her daughter's funeral.

"I’ve got to get something that is handicap-accessible so I can be a mom and go to the store and do things that I need to do," said Bering.

The new van would also allow her to take her son camping, something they're both dreaming of doing this summer.

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