(YORK, S.C.) -- One good deed-doing South Carolina teacher didn’t exactly heed The Steve Miller Band’s advice to “take the money and run.”
Instead, Sherry Whitesides and her 12-year-old son, Alan, of York, S.C., turned in $11,000 in cash they found flying at them out of thin air.
“We were downtown on a fairly busy street and there was a vehicle in front of me, a couple car lengths in front of me, and I saw what, to me, looked like something had flown off the top of the car,” Whitesides, 42, told ABC's Good Morning America. “I saw it hit the road, and then I saw the scatter.”
The money, stacks and stacks of $100 bills, had flown out of a black Wells Fargo bank bag before landing squarely on the side of the road, scattering all over the place – ripe for the picking.
“We get out of the car and I looked down and saw all these $100 bills,” she recalled. “But they were pink and blue, like the brand new ones, and my first thought was, ‘This isn’t real.’”
However, they were very real, and the befuddled Whitesides knew there was only one thing they could do. They had to return it.
“It was just the right thing to do,” Whitesides said. “God put me in that situation for a reason.”
Fortunately, they had plenty of clues to help them get the cash back to its rightful owner, who never even realized the money had flown off the car, let alone turned around to go back for it.
“There was a white piece of paper and it looked like trash, and I just felt the Lord telling me to pick it up,” said Whitesides. “I opened it up and it was a receipt for Wells Fargo in the amount of $30,000 cash. And I thought, ‘Well, we’ve got to go back there.’ He must’ve just come from there.”
She and her son quickly gathered up all the money and drove down the road to the bank just a few blocks away, hoping they’d be able to track the transaction, but the bank was closed.
“My thought was, ‘I cannot keep this money until tomorrow when Wells Fargo opens,” she said.
The bank receipt wasn’t the only telling piece of information inside the bag, though. The man’s drivers license and credit cards were also thrown in, together with the wads of cash.
“I just figured he had just come from the bank and just stuffed all that stuff in the bag,” Whitesides said.
Her next stop was the police station.
“I told them, ‘I think I just found $30,000,’ and the look on their faces were priceless,” she said of the two officers that greeted her. “They sent a deputy out to his house to see if he’d lost anything and to follow up.”
After she left the station, however, Whitesides couldn’t get the entire wacky scenario out of her head. She paid another visit to the Clover Police Department, where they informed her they were, indeed, successful in finding the money’s owner and returning the cash, which turned out being only $11,000 of the $30,000 from his bank receipt.
What became of the rest of the money or how the man lost the cash off the top of his car remains a mystery to Whitesides.
“He’s a man in his 60s and they [the police] said he had just moved to Clover,” she said. “He has not contacted me and I don’t feel like it’s my place to contact him. But I’m just thankful he got it back.
“My whole purpose in doing this was to show my son the money was not ours,” she added. “I was not going to hide and try to claim that something was mine. I wanted to set a godly example for him. And I did not feel like this was a provision from heaven. It didn’t just fall from the sky. When you find stuff like this, the right thing to do is give it back. Because if I had lost it, I’d want someone to be able to return it to me.”
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