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After Texas truck driver Rafael Sanchez accidentally left his passport and other important documents on the side of his truck, then drove down an Arizona interstate, the chances of ever retrieving those blown-away papers seemed bleak.
But Christmas came early for Sanchez.
The story is best told in a blog by Tom Herrmann, a spokesman for ADOT, who puts it this way:
It all began just days before Christmas, when Sanchez bought a new truck in his former hometown of Hawthorne, California.
Eager to get his new truck back to his home just outside Dallas, Texas – perhaps too eager – Sanchez crossed the Colorado River into Arizona.
He pulled into the port of entry, located in the median on Interstate 8 about a mile east of the state line. Not knowing the port was closed at that hour, he looked in a manila envelope and removed permits to show safety inspectors, then set the envelope down on his truck. Finding the office closed, Sanchez climbed back in his truck, pulled back onto I-8 and headed for Texas.
The manila envelope was still sitting on the side of his truck. As he brought his truck up to freeway speed, the envelope blew off. He realized the mishap about 15 miles later, but it was too late. The envelope – containing Sanchez’s passport, Social Security card, receipts, truck title and other papers – was gone. Despite two anxious trips up and down I-8, he failed to find it.
Sanchez called inspectors with ADOT’s Enforcement and Compliance Division and explained the problem. Bruce Fenske, a senior operations engineer with ADOT, asked that Arizona Department of Corrections have inmate work crews cleaning litter along the interstate keep an eye out for the missing envelope.
Wednesday morning, a member of one of those inmate work crews spotted the envelope in the I-8 median. The envelope, its contents having survived the adventure, headed back to a grateful Sanchez via the mail.
“I have been praying that you guys would find it, and my prayers were answered,” says the relieved trucker. “I’m very happy to get it back. I was getting ready for Plan B, and I didn’t have a Plan B yet. I’m very thankful to you guys.”