‘God Sent A Truck’ To Miami’s Poorest Brink’s Truck Overturns, Spilling Handfuls Of Cash
Tessie Borden And Jody Benjamin Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel
It was as if Santa Claus had come to the Overtown area - two weeks late.
A Brink’s armored truck carrying more than $3.7 million rolled over on Wednesday, raining dollars on one of South Florida’s poorest neighborhoods. Motorists grabbed greenbacks. They jammed traffic for miles. Neighbors stuffed T-shirts, skirts, pockets and socks.
About $400,000 was lost, police said. One man said he’d gathered $1,200.
“Women with babies were putting money in their strollers,” said Ernesto Duarte, spokesman for the Florida Highway Patrol. “That whole area was just sprayed with money.”
As rush hour began about 7:25 a.m., the speeding truck swerved on an Interstate 95 on-ramp from Interstate 395, hit a guardrail and flipped. The back door sprang open. Chaos followed.
One bag, with at least $300,000, bounced down the highway. Rolls of coins showered the street below. Bushes were covered by cash. A parking lot was littered with it.
Almost immediately, dozens of people after somebody else’s money showed up. Some were glad for the accident.
“What a Christmas after Christmas,” said Lisa Young, showing hands full of change. She said excited friends had tipped her off.
Police immediately tried to close off the area. They quickly found the bag with $300,000. They used shovels to scoop coins from the street. They even snatched money from an elderly woman who gathered it in a box.
Police later found a ripped canvas cash bag with nothing left. They did not charge people picking up money.
“People climbed over fences and climbed all over each other to get at the money,” Miami Lt. Bill Schwartz said. “It was complete pandemonium.”
The two Brink’s guards in the truck were slightly injured, but OK. Police said they planned to charge the driver, Walter Cravero, 40, with reckless driving. He was fined $75. The passenger, Lazaro Diaz, 38, wasn’t charged.
“I know (Brink’s) people weren’t happy,” Duarte said. Brink’s, however, was mum about the incident, even to investigators.
“We tried to touch bases with them,” Duarte said. “They were like, ‘No comment, no comment, no comment, No comment.”’ The money fell into a neighborhood where many people earn less than $5,000 per year. Some homes have dirt floors. Others don’t have running water.
Those scrambling for the cash were stunned, but happy. One little girl emptied her bookbag so she could fill it with change. Juanita Williams, who lives nearby, saw it happen.
“She just dumped all her books out into the street,” Williams said.
By 10:45 a.m., after much of the money was recovered, Brink’s officials told investigators they had gotten what they could, Duarte said.
When police lifted the crime scene tape, dozens swarmed to pick up remaining loose change. They darted back and forth through traffic. A Highway Patrol officer had to stay at the scene the rest of the day to keep them from getting run over.
Watching the mob scene, bystander James Toni took a philosophical view.
“They deserve it. These hard-working people, they don’t make enough money,” he said. “God sent a truck.”
It wasn’t the first time cash has fallen from an armored vehicle. In 1988, $1.7 million dropped from a truck in San Francisco. Only $1 million was recovered. A woman who felt guilty returned $28,000.
Armored trucks, which transport billions of dollars a year in the United States and can cost $65,000 to $100,000, are not supposed to pop open in accidents, experts say.
Kirk Heaton, an executive with International Armoring Corp. in Ogden, Utah, said manufacturers focus on making the trucks assault-proof - not necessarily accident-proof.
By nightfall, police had again cordoned off the scene in Overtown, fearing fortune seekers coming home from work. Some houses were even looted by people looking for money.
“Everybody thinks they are going to find a bag of money,” Duarte said.
Barbara Thorpe, a neighbor who gathered only 50 cents in the late morning scramble, was unimpressed.
“It don’t mean nothing,” Thorpe said. “Whatever they found out here will be spent by tonight.
Sometimes God works in mysterious ways and sends other things in the trucks:
– Motorists on a Florida highway in October 2000 got an unexpected fright when a tractor-trailer carrying 26 dead alligators overturned, spilling the carcasses across the road. The gators were due to be skinned and butchered anyway, so workers simply hauled them up onto a flatbed truck and continued on their way.
– Nooooo! A highway in The Netherlands was closed on May 11, 2005, after an accident that spilled 2,184 cases of Grolsch beer. One officer described the scene as “a sea of beer”.
– In Oregon, USA, in June 2007, a valve broke on a truck hauling animal waste from a processing plant, sending 4,000 gallons of pig blood gushing forth onto the road and into the yards of nearby homes.
– A truck overturned near Salt Lake City, USA, in August, 2005. Onlookers rushed to help, but soon legged it in the other direction when they learned the truck was carrying around 16,000 kgs of explosives. About three minutes later, the truck exploded creating a 30-foot deep crater in the road, blasting chunks out of the canyon wall, setting brush fires, and damaging a Union Pacific rail line.
– A truck spilled more than 500 pounds (226kg) of decomposing animal entrails and hides, pig heads, and outdated processed meat through Arizona, USA. The road was closed for a half-hour and bystanders gagged while a 15-man crew cleaned up the smelly spill.
– Thar She Blows! A 56-foot, 60-tonne sperm whale died on a beach in Taiwan in January, 2004. Researchers wanted the carcass to perform an autopsy and for research, but as it was being transported through the city, gasses built up to a critical level inside the whale and it exploded, spewing whale guts in the street, on the cars and over pedestrians.
– On July 21, 2006, a Tomahawk Cruise Missile fell off a truck and landed in the middle of the highway near the Bronx. Luckily, it wasn’t armed.
– There’s nothing like getting stuck in a major traffic jam early in the morning and being forced to smell breakfast meat the entire time. On April 2, 2009, about 2,000 pounds of raw sausage meat spilled onto a busy road in Savannah, Georgia. To make matters worse, it was also raining at the time, turning the processed fatty meat into a thick, mushy mess which took about four hours to clear.
– On June 11, 2009, an armoured car travelling on I-75 in Detroit, USA, somehow managed to spill bags of cash onto the highway. Local motorists began stopping and scooping up as much cash as possible, scrambling to get the money before the guards could.
– In Colombia, Bogota, on April 20, 2007, a truck overturned when it cornered a turn too fast, spilling almost a tonne of cocaine on the highway. The cocaine had been hidden in the walls and roof of the truck. The driver wasn’t hurt, but probably had a lot of time to contemplate the dangers of speeding while he sat in a prison cell afterwards.
– A truck carrying 12 million honeybees hit a wall on a highway ramp in California on December 15, 2004. The truck was carrying 480 bee colonies to pollinate an almond crop when it hit a wall, sending the bees swarming. The Las Vegas Fire Department eventually had to douse the bees with water to kill them.
–Twenty five penguins, an octopus and some exotic fish were minding their own business in the back of a refrigerated truck while being transported from the Indianapolis Zoo to Moody Gardens in Galveston, Texas when suddenly, they found themselves on the side of the highway. The truck driver had lost control, flipping the truck several times before it ejected its unusual passengers. Sadly, four of the penguins died, but the octopus and fish were thrown clear and found alive in their plastic bags.
– Firefighters in China had a hell of a time cleaning up a highway after a truck loaded with buckets of construction glue crashed into a bus in Chengdu City. They tried using water guns to dilute the glue without success, and it didn’t take long before their spades and brooms became mired in the mess. Onlookers even slipped and got stuck. Eventually, the glue was dissolved with special chemicals.
– A big rig carrying freshly minted nickels from Philadelphia to the Federal Reserve in Miami crashed into another truck in Brevard County, Florida in 2008, spilling US$185,000 (B5.55 million) worth of coins onto the highway. Crews had to use blowers and shovels to up the 3.5 million coins.
Not a trophy, but a nice blacktail for the freezer later on!
I wondered why the camera had been unplugged & the battery and wire 10 or 15 feet away back in the trees. Usually it's an elk that chews up the wire, but it all was still in good shape. I thought I knew what had done it & I was right. The bear just didn't want me taking his (or her) picture I guess.
A closeup. Probably from the rear
This is why I don't put any of the hives up on the hill. I do have a 12v fence charger, but it would be a risk even so. Not being the world's most accomplished bee keeper, they have enough problems putting up with my administrations. I don't need any help from the bears.