Officer stops at nothing to help boy get a bike back

EAST LIVERPOOL – Remembering what it was like as a boy not being able to afford a bicycle, city police officer Kelsey Hedrick stepped in last week after learning that one was stolen from a local child.

Hedrick happened to be the officer who answered the police department phone when Sherri Highley of St. Clair Avenue called to report her son Kenny Knight’s bicycle had been taken from her porch.

His mom said his bike had been kept inside the house every night except last Saturday when she had other kids over and she had Kenny put it on the porch. The next morning, it was gone, with the thief leaving their gate open on the way out.

“It kind of touched my heart when she told me how upset he was,” Hedrick said, adding he learned from Highley that she had had the bicycle in layaway for some time before she could afford to get it out for her son last Christmas and now could not afford a replacement.

The officer recalled that, as a youngster, “I couldn’t afford a bike either. Mine was three different bicycles (pieced together).”

His mother owned the Buckeye Bar downtown and Hedrick would take his make-do bicycle inside with him, parking it in the kitchen so no one would steal it.

So, when he heard about Kenny’s loss, Hedrick first started looking for his bicycle, and even sent a photo of several to Highley to see if her son’s was among them, but it wasn’t.

At that point, Hedrick said he decided to get the boy another bike.

“I was just going to buy it,” he said, but that was not to be.

When he called the Calcutta Walmart, Hedrick learned the store had only one of the same model as the stolen one available and asked manager Jamie Datillio if she would put it back for him until he could get there.

“I told her the story and she said, ‘Oh no, no.’ She talked to another manager, Matt Simcox, and they decided to donate it,” he marveled.

On Thursday afternoon, once Kenny returned from school, Hedrick and his wife Angel stopped outside his home and pulled the new bike from their vehicle as the boy watched from his porch, unaware of the generous donation coming his way.

As the boy gratefully accepted his new bicycle from Hedrick, the officer also presented him with a bike lock and a word of caution to record the serial number and keep it locked up.

He advised Kenny, “I’m not going to quit looking for yours, OK?” telling him, if it is found, he will then donate it to another boy who needs a bike.

The youngster seemed amenable to that suggestion, calling out, “Thank you,” as he rode across the street on his new bike.