About $10k Canadian, yikes!
Biker rains cash on Hwy. 4 -- by mistake
Charlie Goodyear, Chronicle Staff Writer
Saturday, October 25, 2003
That whooshing sound Steve Dass heard Thursday as he roared down Highway 4 wasn't just air flowing over his Kawasaki Ninja motorcycle at high speed.
What was supposed to have been a routine trip will likely stand as the most expensive ride of Dass' life. Over the din of the bike's engine, 72 $100 bills -- earmarked to help pay for furniture for his mother -- shot out of the pocket of his unzipped biker jacket and into traffic, causing a free-for- all that left Dass practically penniless.
The 24-year-old Walnut Creek resident started off that afternoon with the best of intentions. Although recently laid off by Bank of America, Dass was determined to make good on a promise to help his mother pay for furniture for her new Antioch condominium.
After withdrawing more than $7,000 in cash from a bank in Concord, Dass hopped on his bike to make the quick run east to see his mother. "I was going to give it to her. It was money that I promised her so she could go pick out whatever she wanted,'' Dass said.
Then disaster struck.
"The money was inside the pocket of my jacket,'' he said. "Normally, I zip my jacket up. But it was a hot day so I unzipped it. When I squatted down (over the motorcycle), the wind flow was too fast for me to notice that the money was streaming out.''
The result along Highway 4 in Pittsburg -- usually one of the worst commutes in the Bay Area -- must have looked like the miracle mile to drivers behind Dass. An untold number of motorists squealed to a halt and started scooping up cash.
One exit up, Dass finally stopped when cars started honking at him. And that's when he noticed the envelope -- stuffed with cash just a few minutes earlier -- was now sickeningly empty. No longer a cool, carefree biker, Dass was now playing the role of Uneasy Rider.
Dass said he got back onto the freeway and, gazing across the traffic lanes, watched almost all his savings go home with total strangers. "It was a herd of cars stopped, people running all over the freeway,'' Dass said on Friday. "I knew I had no chance of getting all the money back.''
One driver traveling west had crossed the lanes to snag $200. "When he came back across, I asked for the money back,'' Dass said. "I explained my situation. He gave it to me.''
The California Highway Patrol is asking anyone else who got richer by Dass' mistake to do the same as that one Good Samaritan.
"If it's laying out on the side of the road, it's not theirs, and it should be turned in,'' said CHP spokesman Cliff Kroeger. Kroeger said responding officers got traffic flowing again but didn't get there in time to recover any cash.
"We do get calls of people losing valuable items out on the highway,'' Kroeger added. "Every once in a while, a paycheck goes out the window. But very seldom do we have large amounts of cash spilled out on to the freeway.''
Dass' mother did not want to speak with reporters on Friday. "She didn't take it quite well,'' said her son when asked for her reaction to the "cash- tastrophe."
"At the same time, it was only money,'' Dass added. "I'm glad that it was money slipping off me instead of me slipping off the motorcycle. I just hope whoever picked up the money needs it more than I did. If they don't, please put yourselves in my shoes. I'm an unemployed man who's just trying to help out his mother.''
Dass said that anyone who really wants to turn in some his lost savings should contact the CHP.