Parowan couple in for surprise after returning bike lost on I-15 to rightful owner

Utah Highway Patrol Trooper Ronald Skeem with the Degroffs after Rhett Degroff recovered a bike on I-15 that was returned to its owner, Cedar City, Utah, July 6, 2020 | Photo courtesy of the Utah Highway Patrol, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — The combined efforts of a Parowan man and two Utah Highway Patrol troopers resulted in the return of an expensive bicycle to its rightful owner after it was found on the side of Interstate 15  – and a surprising gift to the man who found it.

Utah Highway Patrol Lt. Nick Street reached out to St. George News on Tuesday with an incident where a good deed came with a surprising reward. 

The incident took place on June 29, when a Parowan man who was traveling on I-15 pulled over and recovered a bicycle after he and his wife noticed it on the side of the freeway. Later, the man called dispatch in Cedar City and reported that he found a bike on the interstate. 

UHP Sgt. Jesse Williams recounted the conversation he had with the man, telling St. George News that the caller said, “It looks like a pretty nice bike.” 

At that point, UHP Trooper Ronald Skeem met with the good Samaritan, Rhett Degroff, who asked if there was any way authorities could find the owner. 

Williams said they told Degroff they would try, “not knowing if we’d be successful or not.” He added that Skeem did the lion’s share of the work to make it happen. 

The bike was listed as found property in the national database, and then the troopers set out to find the owner.

Using the serial number and a sticker with the name of the bike shop in Southern California where it was presumably purchased, they were able to contact the shop owner, who Williams said needed confirmation that the call was actually from a law enforcement officer before he gave out any customer information.

“He didn’t believe us at first, so we had to send him an email confirming who we were,” he said.

After verifying the request was from UHP, the shop owner ran the serial number and told troopers that the bike was a recent purchase and provided the customer’s contact information. 

When the troopers called the bike’s owner, they learned the bicycle had fallen off the back of the man’s motor home as he and his family were headed to Idaho Falls to go camping.

“The owner told us that when they lost the bike, they stopped to look for it,” Williams said, “but they never found it so they went on their way.”  

The owner asked authorities to hold the bike if possible and told the troopers he would swing by the UHP office in Cedar City on his way back from Idaho to retrieve it, which he did a few days later.  

As he did so, Williams said, he left a $500 reward in cash for Degroff.

Williams went on to say that both troopers were excited to give Degroff the reward, who had no idea it was coming.  

“He’s a newly married guy,” Williams explained, “And we knew that it would mean a lot to him.” 

More importantly, he said, it served as a good example of “people doing a good thing and getting rewarded for it,” particularly in light of the fact that Degroff put forth the effort to first recover the bike and then took the time to make sure it was returned to the owner – without expecting anything in return.  

“That guy did it because it was the right thing to do. That was it.”

Ed. note: This report previously included a quote from the police chief erroneously stating Degroff is the father of a newborn. He and his wife currently do not have children.

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2020, all rights reserved.

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