A group of Long Beach sanitation workers are receiving praise after they helped a woman find $5,000 in cash that she accidentally threw away on Tuesday.
Krishna Nadalall, 45, of Long Beach said his mother Ella was on her way to pay her mortgage when she realized the envelope of cash she intended to bring was missing. Nadalall said his mother, also of Long Beach, called him crying Tuesday morning, saying she believed she had mistakenly thrown it away, and Nadalall, a city sanitation worker, realized he could help.
“I called my supervisors and told them the situation,” Nadalall said. “I said OK, it’s all right, I finished my job and went to the dump.”
Nadalall’s co-workers were instructed to bring their loads of trash from Long Beach to the Merrick Transfer Station and dump it out on the ground. When Nadalall arrived around 1 p.m., he and co-workers Mark Compton, 54, of Island Park, Sean Lewis, 44, and Broadus Brown, 43, both of Long Beach, started digging through the trash by hand.
“I was thinking we have to find the money,” Nadalall said. “Where is she going to get that from? It’s a lot of money.”
Nadalall said his mother was about give up and go home when the workers began to find cash, mostly in 20- and 50-dollar bills, in a pile of garbage. Some of the money had come out of the original envelope during the drive.
“It was a concerted effort between the workers and Krishna and his mother,” Lewis said. “It’s like a needle in a haystack and we got lucky.”
It took almost an hour to recover all but $40 of the money, the group said. The last moments of the ordeal were recorded by another sanitation worker who uploaded the video to Facebook, where it was shared more than 400 times by Wednesday afternoon.
The group can be seen picking through a spread of garbage while Ella Nadalall, who was also on site, counts the money in the brief video as the worker narrates what happened. Ella Nadalall was not available for comment.
City officials said they were proud to see the workers helping one of their own.
“We learned after superstorm Sandy what an incredible workforce we have and this Christmas miracle showed again that we have citizen superheros willing to go above and beyond,” said city manager Jack Schnirman.
Lewis said the group didn’t realize their good deed would get any attention at all, let alone resonate with people watching the video. They were just trying to help out a co-worker, he said.
“At the end of the day, we were just happy to help out,” Lewis said.
Nadalall said his mother was ecstatic to have her mortgage money back and he was grateful to his co-workers for making it happen.
“The supervisors and guys were great, they’re like family to me,” Nadalall said. “It’s a miracle we got the money back.”