Tahoe recycler has bikes stolen
A thief has managed to slow him down a bit, but Daniel Kutz will not allow his present circumstances to keep him from his appointed rounds.
He still arises every morning at 6:30, just as he has done for the past eight years. He then goes on his recycle route around town – collecting cans, bottles and cardboard and turning in the materials at the local recycling center.
Kutz has become somewhat of a fixture around South Lake Tahoe, where he can often be seen peddling one of his pair of three-wheel bikes, which he uses on his route.
At least, that was what he was doing up until about two weeks ago, when the bikes were stolen out of his back yard.
“He was devastated,” said his mother, Angel Kutz, of her son’s reaction to the bicycle theft. “That route is his whole life.”
Daniel, 35, suffered a childhood head injury and is what might be termed as developmentally disabled. He makes a little money recycling cans and bottles – and still makes his rounds, sans bike. These days, since the theft, he just walks.
“He goes out in rain, snow, whatever,” said his mother. “He doesn’t give up.”
Daniel is a regular at several locations around town, and many of his “clients” soon noticed his plight. So a group of waitresses at the International House of Pancakes passed the hat, and collected a little money, which they dubbed the Daniel Kutz Bicycle Fund.
“The head waitress came in one day (March 5), and she had some money in a butter container,” said Terri Hoel, an official at U.S. Bank. “A bunch of waitresses had chipped in whatever they could afford, and they deposited $47. It was really cool; a really nice thing for them to do.”
The fund has grown a little since then, but more help is needed. The bikes, although used, were worth about $300 each. Daniel rode the vehicles hard each day, and his stepfather, Alex Carrillo, helped maintain them in his garage workshop.
“I came home from work that day and asked Daniel where his bikes were,” his mother said. “He told me they were buried in the snow. He has a memory problem. I said, ‘Daniel, you were just riding one of them yesterday.’ Someone just came into the yard and took them. Daniel took it hard.
“I recently ordered him a new one, because I refuse to sit there and watch him walk,” she said.
“He’s a really nice guy,” said Robin Butler, a waitress at IHOP who helped start the fund. “We see him every day. Daniel is just a sweetheart. We just decided he needed some help.”
And it was indeed a true bipartisan gesture. Daniel’s mother is a waitress at rival Denny’s.
“That’s the real heartwarming part,” said Angel Kutz. “But Daniel has that effect on people.”
Anyone interested in contributing to the fund can visit U.S. Bank, and make a deposit with any teller. For more information call (530) 542-1221.
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