Florida man’s wallet returned a year after 1-95 loss
NEW SMYRNA BEACH – Losing a wallet can be frustrating. Losing him in the middle of a busy highway with no hope of ever seeing him again is a nightmare.
But for New Smyrna Beach resident Paul Dulfer, who lost his wallet on Interstate 95 near Melbourne last year, hope was not lost.
On March 8, Dulfer received a Facebook message from a man who literally tripped over his lost wallet.
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“I was taking my daughter (Leslie) to a place that sells trees,” Dulfer said. “I was in the passenger seat, she was driving, and then her 2-year-old, who was in the back, started crying.
They stopped on Interstate 95 heading south to tend to the baby. Her wallet was in her lap, as they had just ordered food from a drive-thru in Edgewater. Dulfer said he thought the wallet must have fallen out when he got out of the car.
“Then I stopped driving, and when we got to the nursery, I realized there was no more,” Dulfer said. “We tried to think where he was, so we came back – probably another 10, 15 miles back – and just rolled slowly sideways looking for about 15, 20 minutes. We couldn’t find it.
Dulfer went home and immediately canceled all his credit cards – he had “only a little money left” on a Pinch A Penny gift card (a pool supply store) and about $400 in cash .
A year later, Dulfer received a message on Facebook from a man saying he had found a wallet with a driver’s license and credit cards in Dulfer’s name.
“It was important for me to try to give it back to him”
Jason Woods, a concrete company owner and resident of Portsmouth, New Hampshire, was driving his RV on Interstate 95 while vacationing in Florida with his family when he came across the wallet.
“I was traveling on Interstate 95 and had a problem with the motorhome windshield,” Woods said, adding that the vehicle is a large bus type. “I needed to get the ladder to reach the top of the windshield.”
Woods said he was doing everything quickly because he pulled over to the side of a busy highway.
“I got the ladder out, set it up, climbed up, did the work, and when I jumped off I almost rolled my ankle because I landed on what I thought was a baseball or something. something like that,” he said. “When I looked down I said ‘Wow – that’s a wallet.'”
As he drove down the road and planned to “deal with it later”, he thought he would be looking for ID.
“I pulled the next exit, opened the ID, saw the guy’s name and within 10 seconds I found him on Facebook,” Woods said.
After confirming that the wallet really belonged to Dulfer, the New Smyrna resident tried to offer him some of the money he knew was still in the wallet.
“I said, ‘Take a hundred dollars and send me the rest,'” Dulfer said. “But he said, ‘No, I don’t need the money – life has been good to me. “”
But Woods saw that the roughly $400 he found in the wallet was unrecoverable — the bills were worn, dirty and all stuck together.
“It was like I found a wallet at the bottom of the ocean that had been there for 1,000 years,” Woods said.
He said he was hesitant to search the wallet for its contents not only because it was “disgusting”, but also because “it was none of my business”. He put the wallet in a zipper bag and sent it back to Dulfer the next day.
“My first thought was ‘someone is really disappointed to have lost all this information,” Woods said. “I knew there was a lot in this portfolio, and it was important for me to try to give it back to him.”
He added: “Who knows what was in there? I don’t know if he had any important cards in there that he would be happy to get back or he didn’t know if they were between the hands of the wrong people.
Disheartened by the sadness she’s seen in the news lately, Dulfer’s wife, Marta, said she was touched by Wood’s kind gesture.
“I would have done (the same thing) if it was me,” she said. “I would have walked through hell or high water to find the person.”
The couple, who have lived in New Smyrna Beach for 10 years, lived near Orlando before moving to the seaside town of Volusia to retire.
“What are the odds?” wondered Marta Dulfer. “We should have bought lottery tickets that day.”
Paul and Marta Dulfer said they plan to send Woods a gift to thank him.
“I hope that if I ever lose my wallet someone will give it back to me,” Woods said.