MURRAY — Gerald "Chip" Romney has fallen off the Great Wall of China. Local police have taken his wobbly gait as a sign of drunkenness. And because the 38-year-old man lacks balance due to traumatic brain injury he can't ride a two-wheel bicycle.
Romney depends on a three-wheel recumbent bike to get around. But when he left his apartment on Creekside Circle last Friday afternoon, it wasn't under the carport where he'd secured it to a pole with a U-lock.
"I was pretty distraught. It kind of ruined my day," he said.
His $2,500 Sun brand, bright red recumbent bike adorned with an American flag was apparently stolen — for the third time. Homeowner's insurance paid to replace the last one. Romney isn't sure it will cover this one.
"It's not just a bike for me," he said. "It's my lifeblood. I can survive but it makes my life a lot harder without it."
Romney suffered a life-threatening injury as an 11-year-old Boy Scout on his first camping trip when a wooden flagpole he was swinging on cracked and hit his head. He was in a coma for six weeks and doctors gave him little chance of recovering.
But he beat the odds. He had to learn to talk and walk all over again. Ironically, he says, his physical therapist suggested he ride a bike to regain strength in his legs.
Romney eventually graduated from Alta High School and BYU-Hawaii. He currently works part time as an LDS Institute of Religion teacher for special-needs students in the Granite School District.
He has a UTA pass but an injured foot makes it difficult for him to walk to the bus stop. He said his bike has been his only reliable form of transportation the past 12 years.
"I love it because I can take it all around the valley," he said.
Romney filed a report with Murray police, but said he doesn't want to turn anyone in for taking his bike.
"I have no malice," he said. "I just want my bike back."
Contributing: Sandra Yi