Some San Diego drivers found positive fortune come their way on Friday morning when they realized that the freeway was littered with money, causing some serious traffic jams as drivers eagerly left their vehicles to scoop up as many bills as they could.
Bills covered the northbound lanes of Interstate 5 near Cannon Road just before 9:15 a.m., California Highway Patrol Officer Jim Bettencourt told the San Diego Union-Tribune.
“For whatever reason, money was falling out of an armored car,” Bettencourt said. “It was free-floating bills all over the freeway.”
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A CrossFit athlete with over 2.5 million followers was one of the lucky drivers on the freeway during the incident. The bodybuilder, Demi Bagby said it was the “most insane” thing she had ever seen.
“This is the most insane thing I have ever seen. Someone dropped money all over the freeway. San Diego has shut down. Literally, it has shut down. Look at the freeway right now,” Bagby said to the camera as she panned to people getting out of their cars to collect the money.
“Literally everybody stopped on the freeway to get money off the freeway. This is literally insane. This is insane,” Bagby said.
In the video, Bagby captured footage of the armored vehicle that the money presumably fell from pulled over, and abandoned on the shoulder.
The abandoned truck had been on its way from San Diego to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., more commonly known as the FDIC, though it’s not clear which office it was headed to according to CHP Sgt. Curtis Martin.
“One of the doors popped open and bags of cash fell out. One of the bags broke apart, and there was cash all over the lanes,” Martin said.
Most of the bills covering the freeway were ones and twenties, law enforcement told the Union-Tribune.
While authorities shut down the road so they could remediate the situation, it was eventually re-opened and police had a message for those temporarily lucky drivers.
“If you stop to pick up money, as many people as videoed the scene, you can possibly be facing charges,” Bettencourt said, “If a bunch of TVs fell from a truck across the freeway, you can’t just take the TVs.”
Authorities arrested two people that they believed stopped to collect cash at the scene after they locked themselves out of their cars, which were later towed according to Martin.
The CHP is now working with the FBI to try to recover the cash, the Union-Tribune reported. As for how much was lost, they won’t say.
“I highly suggest to anybody that picked up cash out here — it’s not your cash, so turn it in immediately to the CHP office in Vista,” Martin stated.
By mid-afternoon, about a dozen drivers came forward to return the cash they had collected.
“People are bringing in a lot. People got a lot of money,” the CHP Sgt. told the Union-Tribune.
Those who still have not come forward have a little bit longer to return the money without charges.
“Multiple pictures and videos were posted on social media (that) captured faces and license plates at the scene of this incident. The CHP is working with the FBI to identify those who participated in the theft of money,” CHP Officer Mary Bailey said in a statement Friday night.
Bailey also warned that the CHP had released 16 photographs and video still frames showing people who grabbed bills off the road. Anyone involved is “encouraged to turn in the money within 48 hours in order to avoid potential criminal charges.”
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