Special needs man dies after chasing thief

What started as a theft turned into a tragedy in Woonsocket on Monday.

Stuart Gast, 33, died after becoming distraught when someone stole his dog carrier.

"Stuart is a smiley guy. He loved being in the Special Olympics. He loved his dog, loved his mother of course," family friend Lisa Jean told NBC10.

Gast had special needs. His home was at the Kennedy Manor apartment building. To take his beloved Chihuahua "Oreo," outside, he needed to use a dog carrier.

Family and police told NBC 10 that Monday morning, someone stole the carrier while Stuart was walking Oreo around, and Stuart gave chase.

Jean says, "At that point he realized he was taking his dog in tow and hurt the dog. At that time he came home upset that the carrier was stolen and the dog was hurt."

Oreo has scratched up paws after apparently being pulled as Stuart ran. "That was his best friend and he felt horrible," Jean said.

That angst brought Stuart to a point beyond being consoled. "They tried to calm him down but he ended up having a seizure and his heart stopped," Jean said.

Stuart was taken to the hospital, where he died that night. Stuart's mother was too upset to talk on camera but told NBC10 she wants the person who stole the dog carrier to know what they did.

Lisa Jean says Stuart died of a broken heart. "Being that worked up and that upset about it and end up dying is tragic, absolutely tragic."

The carrier was a soft, fabric one, red with a black mesh door. If anyone knows who took it, they are asked to call Woonsocket police. Police said an investigation is under way.

A funeral for Stuart Gast is scheduled for Tuesday.