TAYLORSVILLE — Unified police officer Mikal Wersland told Roy Feragen that investigators had served a search warrant looking for his stolen wheelchair and that he was needed to identify evidence.
"He lied," the quick-witted Feragen said Tuesday with a smile, prompting laughter from the room.
Instead, Wersland brought the retired Navy veteran, soon to turn 85, into Taylorsville City Hall, where Feragen received a brand-new motorized wheelchair courtesy of the Unified Police Department, Taylorsville city and Overstock.com.
"I don't know what you can say, but this is fantastic. You don't expect this," Feragen said with tears filling his eyes.
The presentation Tuesday afternoon of the new wheelchair also brought Wersland, who was the first officer Feragen came in contact with after the robbery, to tears.
"I won't forget it," he said when asked about what it was like seeing Feragen's reaction to getting the new chair. "I've been doing this 20 years and I've never experienced anything like this.
"I'm not going to lie, I teared up quite a bit over the last few days, just hearing what people were willing to do," he said.
Last week, Feragen went to Savers Thrift Store, 4151 S. Redwood Road, and parked his motorized wheelchair outside while he ran in to look for a cook book.
"I wasn't away from the door very long, but I come back out and no wheelchair," he recalled.
He was asked what his reaction was when he realized it was gone.
I can walk. But I can't walk long distance, and I'm not to stay just because I'm an old booger. These things here make you move around like you can do something. I can get on the bus and get somewhere and then you can take off.
"I ain't gonna use that kind of language," he replied. "People can do damn near everything if you give them a chance."
Detectives believe a couple, a man and a woman in their 20s wearing all black clothing, pulled up next to the wheelchair, lifted it into their truck and took off. As of Tuesday, there had been no arrests.
Wersland responded to the scene and drove Feragen home.
"He mentioned he probably wouldn't be able to get out much and get around. And I think he was pretty overwhelmed that someone would do that, that someone would take his wheelchair," the police officer said. "For that, I don't have an explanation. But he was pretty concerned about it because it's a big part of his life."
Unified police and Taylorsville city officials knew it would be a while before Feragen would be able to replace his wheelchair, valued at about $1,800. And without it, he was limited in the activities he could do.
That's when Overstock stepped in and helped.
On Tuesday, Feragen was quick with the one-liners as he received his new wheelchair, telling police, "I don't know if it will go 40 mph. I always like to speed," and, "Does it got an overdrive?"
Without everyone's help, Feragen said he probably would have received a used wheelchair "that is shot or old, like me."
Now, he says the new chair allows him to do things he wouldn't normally be able to do.
"I can walk. But I can't walk long distance, and I'm not to stay just because I'm an old booger. These things here make you move around like you can do something. I can get on the bus and get somewhere and then you can take off," Feragen said
"To have one this good, all lit up, my gosh, it's like having a party," he said.
Anyone with information about the missing wheelchair can call Unified police at 801-743-7000.