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Randall Jeppesen and Keith McCord reportingWe've probably all thrown something in the trash that we didn't mean to but, chances are, you didn't do what a Provo woman did yesterday to retrieve it. What she tossed out was worth a lot of money!
The story ends at the South Utah Valley Solid Waste District Transfer Station in Springville. Provo's garbage trucks dump their loads there. Tuesday morning, while making his normal pickups, veteran driver Tom Clark was stopped by a very concerned woman who said she lost some money. "First I thought she said $200, and then she said it a little louder, $200,000, so I just shut the truck off," Clark said.
The woman, who didn't want her name released, runs a business with her husband out of their home. She said she inadvertently threw away 28 checks totaling more than $188,000: checks she was going to deposit in the bank.
They ended up in the back of Clark's truck, which had 10 tons of garbage already packed inside! "I hopped in the car and went out in the neighborhood looking for our garbage truck driver," she said.
Clark dumped the entire load. The woman, along with a neighbor and several workers, started searching for the checks that were inside of a white trash bag.
It could have taken hours to go through every bag, but it only took 5 minutes to find the checks, because they asked for help. They found the checks in only the third bag they opened!
Provo sanitation manager Brad Rollins, said, "They were on the other side of the pile, and they said a prayer, and I thought, ‘OK, we're going to need all the help we can get.'"
The woman's friend Emily Lillywhite helped in the search. "So my friend offered the prayer, and I didn't actually hear the prayer."
They then walked around to the other side of the pile and, "I opened the bag, and she said ‘It's going to have mail and stuff just like this. And I said, ‘Oh, and these checks?? It was just like that -- laughter," Rollins said.
And so, after a few sighs of relief next to a smelly trash heap, the checks are now in the bank where they belong. As for advice to all of us throwing stuff into the garbage can, Clark says, "Make sure you know what you're throwing in it."
The Provo Sanitation Department gets calls several times a year from customers looking for lost stuff, but this incident was probably the most urgent. The woman who lost the checks is very grateful to the city workers for their help.