By Tom Herrmann / ADOT Communications
Rafael Sanchez was eager to get his new truck back to his home before the holidays. Perhaps a little too eager.
Sanchez, a truck driver from just outside Dallas, Texas, had bought a truck from an acquaintance from his former hometown of Hawthorne, California. As he 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, and 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.
Unfortunately, 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 problem 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. Two trips up and down I-8 failed to find it.
He called inspectors with ADOT’s Enforcement and Compliance Division and explained the problem. Bruce Fenske, a senior operations engineer with ADOT, asked the Arizona Department of Corrections to have inmate work crews cleaning litter along the interstate to keep an eye out for the missing envelope.
Wednesday morning, a member of one of those inmate work crews found 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,” he said. “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.”