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June 18, 2006

Deaf man abandoned by "friends" is home safe, thanks to cops

From: Asbury Park Press - Asbury Park,NJ,USA - Jun 18, 2006

His mother praises Seaside Heights police

Posted by the Asbury Park Press on 06/18/06


SEASIDE HEIGHTS — Timothy Beck, a 21-year-old Florida man, was determined to be independent from his parents and move to New Jersey with his new friends.

Despite his mother's protests, Beck, who is deaf, traveled to Seaside Heights recently from Florida with a couple who befriended him and persuaded him to leave home. A day after arriving in the borough, he found himself abandoned by his friends.

Beck awoke in a Seaside Heights motel room that he and his friends had rented the night before to find that all his belongings and money were gone, and so were his friends, Seaside Heights police Capt. Dave Szalkowski said. They took everything he had during the night and left him alone, Szalkowski said.

Beck wandered the streets, unable to communicate through speech — distraught, fearful, hungry and without a place to stay. Then Beck encountered a police officer, who took him to headquarters. That was when his luck began to change, said Beck's mother, Sharon Suttell of Pembroke Pines, Fla.

At police headquarters, Detective Steve Korman learned of Beck's plight and his disability. Korman knows some sign language because his daughter has a neurological disorder that affects her ability to speak. He took over the investigation, which is ongoing, police said.

Korman determined that Beck was a victim of theft and learned where his mother and stepfather could be reached. Suttell and her husband, Gary, were on a planned a vacation in Buffalo, N.Y., on June 3 when they received a frantic message that Beck was stranded and penniless, she said.

Korman made arrangements with New Jersey Transit for Beck to ride to the Port Authority bus station and for authorities there to accompany Beck to a bus to Florida. Suttell had purchased the bus ticket on the Internet.

She said Beck is home safe and plans to stay there.

Another officer, Sgt. Thomas Grzywinski, gave her son $100 for food and spending money on the trip. It was a very generous gesture and much appreciated, Suttell said. She has since reimbursed Grzywinski.

On Monday, Suttell spoke about the misadventure in atelephone interview. Her son doesn't want to tell her too much about what had happened to him with his "ex-friends," she said.

Suttell asked Beck, in sign language, if he would ever go back to Seaside Heights, and he signed "no," she said.

"But not because of the police," he added. "They saved me."

"He told me the other day the police were so nice," Suttell said. "He was hungry, and they helped him. They stayed with him. They did not leave him or let him stay on the streets."

Suttell said she was impressed that Korman had sign-language capabilities.

"Tim felt very comfortable with him," she said. "Detective Korman went way above and beyond."

As for Grzywinski, she said, "What he did was unheard of. He just whipped out $100.

"Detective Korman did not leave his side and made all the arrangements. He saved him. He feels that way. He said, "He really saved me.' "

Szalkowski received a letter from Suttell commending the work of the department, particularly Korman and Grzywinski.

"This is actually very typical for these guys to go above and beyond like this," Szalkowski said.

What could have happened if her son had not come in contact with Korman is unthinkable, Suttell said. Her gratitude to the Seaside Heights Police Department will always be on the top of her list, she said.

"That is always nice to hear," Szalkowski said. "These officers deserve special recognition for this."

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