LAND O’ LAKES — Cpl. Rick Roller has been an integral part of the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office for nearly three decades, so when significant health problems left him recuperating in a long-term acute-care center, his fellow deputies decided he needed cheering up.
Their idea of pulling that off involved lights, sirens and motorcycles, something Roller as a founding member of the sheriff’s office’s motorcycle unit knows all about.
On Wednesday morning, unit members Dan Fenstemacher and Patrick Woehlk rode motorcycles up to the window of the room where Roller is staying at Florida Hospital at Connerton. Fenstemacher rode the Victory motorcycle that Roller will operate once he’s back in action.
“We have a Victory motorcycle trying to speak to the victory of his recovery,” Capt. James Steffens said.
Standing outside the window, the deputies gave Roller a thumbs up.
He returned the sign.
“Knowing he gave the thumbs up, that tells us everything we need to know,” Steffens said.
Roller played a key role last year in the sheriff’s office’s decision to switch from Harley-Davidson motorcycles to Victory motorcycles, Steffens said. Roller also is passionate about child safety, Steffens said, especially the enforcement of school-zone speed limits, which are about to kick in again with the start of the school year Aug. 18.
“For him not being a part of that, that’s tough for him,” Steffens said.
Originally, the deputies planned to take Roller’s motorcycle into his hospital room, but when that could not be arranged with the hospital, they opted for Plan B of greeting him from outside the window.
“You got a smile out of him,” Roller’s wife, Karrie, told the officers.
Karrie Roller said her husband is recovering from complications from surgery he had more than two months ago. There have been a few setbacks — which she and her husband refer to as “hiccups” — along the way.
“It’s been a long journey for us,” she said outside the medical facility.
She said what has kept them going is their faith in God, along with support from churches, the sheriff’s office, friends and her employer, Metropolitan Ministries.
The motorcycle visit was a nice boost to help her husband keep a positive attitude, she said.
“We’re continuing our recovery process and soon he will be back on that bike doing traffic control in Pasco County,” Karrie Roller said.