It was an ordinary Saturday in April 2017 and the Bowers family were driving along East Wilson Bridge Road in Worthington, Ohio. Jake, 43, his wife Tara and their kids were on an outing to a local park. That was when they spotted something that would totally change their day – and send them straight to the cops.
For those who have never visited Worthington, it’s a suburb of Columbus. Worthington, which recorded a population of around 13,500 in the 2010 census, lies just to the north of its big sister Columbus. Set right in the heart of Ohio, this middle-America city is about 550 miles inland from New York. And it’s definitely a mom-and-apple-pie kind of place.
But if you were looking for excitement, Worthington probably wouldn’t be your first port of call. There was, however, a ripple of exhilaration through the city one Tuesday in June 2017 when a newly opened pizza parlor offered all-day free pizza with the toppings of your choice.
That’s not to say, though, that this peaceful little city doesn’t have its charms. On the contrary, Worthington, founded in 1803, has a historic district that’s home to a selection of elegant homes from the 19th century. A stroll along the elegant High Street, meanwhile, is always a pleasure.
But returning to the Bowers family and their drive, something quite out of the ordinary was just about to happen. They were traveling along East Wilson Bridge Road, just past the junction with Worthington Galena Road, when fate struck. “My wife was driving and I said, ‘Honey, turn around. There’s something in the road back there,’” Jake told WBNS-TV.
What Jake had spotted was a discarded blue felt bag. The dad thought it might contain a mislaid laptop or similar device, and so he pulled over. Later, he told This Week Community News why they had stopped. “Out of curiosity – What’s this? It was kind of large – we checked it out.”
What happened next stunned the Bowers family. Jake described the moment, “We grabbed it [the bag] and opened it, and there was somebody’s wallet with some identification and some envelopes that were stuffed with hundred-dollar bills.”
And it wasn’t just a couple of hundred dollar bills they discovered inside. In fact, once the money was counted up it turned out to amount to a staggering $14,000. That’s 140 one hundred dollar bills. Not enough to buy a Caribbean island obviously, but certainly enough to make a real difference to an ordinary family like the Bowers.
It’s a dream come true for many of us, finding a bag of money on the street with no apparent owner. What would you do, if it happened to you? Keeping the money might be very tempting, but would it be morally right? Well, that was the question that Jake and his family faced.
Jake, 43, remembered his first reaction. “It was like, ‘Oh wow. That’s a lot of money,’” he told This Week News. And the family kidded around a bit, but it was only a brief hesitation before they made a firm decision about what they now had to do.
Jake knew exactly where to go with their discovery. The family drove to the Worthington Police Station which was not far away on Worthington-Galena Road. And once they were there, they handed over the cash in its entirety.
But what motivated Jake and his family to hand in the money? Jake told This Week News that they just “wanted to make the world right for someone.” Even though, as he told Inside Edition, “That money could have meant paying off our cars or going on a vacation to us, it may have meant groceries or sustenance for someone else.”
Jake continued, “It was a good opportunity to teach the kids about doing the right thing.” And certainly, what better way to teach your kids the value of honesty than with this practical example? Both parents can be proud of their actions.
Jake recalled the decision-making process behind their decision to hand the money in. “There wasn’t really much discussion about it,” he told This Week News. “We were down the street from the police station and we happened to be driving that way anyway. So the discussion was pretty much, ‘This is someone’s money. We need to turn it in.’”
The Worthington Division of Police’s Sergeant James Moran, meanwhile, told This Week Community News, “At least for us, we don’t get cash like that turned in very often.” And so he went on to say that he was amazed to see an amount as high as $14,000 arriving at the police station.
Furthermore, because there was identification with the envelopes, the police were able to trace the rightful owner of the cash. The owner was from Marion, a city about a 50-minute drive north of Worthington. And we can only imagine the relief that he must have felt upon getting his money back.
As it turns out, the owner of the money had been visiting a car dealership with the intention of buying a vehicle with the cash. However, he hadn’t made the purchase in the end. Police Lieutenant Michael Holton told Inside Edition, “He thinks he may have left it on his roof when he drove off. He went back to the car lot, but of course, they didn’t have it. A good Samaritan drove by, picked it up and brought it into the station.”
Lieutenant Holton went on to say, “There’s good people out there. Honest people.” And we can surely count the Bower family among them. He also added a word of caution, “It’s not illegal to walk around with huge amounts of cash. It’s not necessarily smart, but it’s not illegal.”
Jake told This Week Community News that the 140 dollar bills were the most money that he’d ever had in his hands. And for his young family, it would have been a really helpful sum which could have helped to clear some debts that the family had incurred in their recent relocation to Worthington. But the Bowers had not wavered in making their choice to hand in the cash.
And Jake finished off by saying, “We had the opportunity to help restore someone’s faith in humanity. It’s not often when something like that happens to you that you’re going to see that money back. But it felt good to know we could do the right thing and potentially make a difference in someone’s life.”