Stettler’s John Sommerville is proof that Good Samaritans really do exist. His good deed has touched a family more than 6,000 kilometres away in Stephenville, Nfld.
Sommerville, an ATCO Electric linesman, was checking a power line along Highway 12 near Gadsby on Sept. 14 when he noticed a $20 bill in the ditch. Looking further, he found more twenties and soon had $100. Somerville said he thought to himself, “This is going to be a good day.”
A greater search in the ditch yielded $205.
Suspecting the wind might have blown some money in the ditch on the other side of the highway, Sommerville checked that ditch as well. His assumptions were correct. The more he walked, the more $20 bills he found.
By the end of the morning, he had found $645.
During his search, he also found a bank receipt, a calling card and driver’s licence, all with the same name. It was that of Patrick Butler from Stephenville.
Sommerville then found the wallet. It only contained two photos of young children.
Somerville said he knew the right thing to do was to return the wallet and its contents to the rightful owner.
He returned to Stettler for lunch and pondered if he should turn his find into the police, but decided to call the number on the calling card instead.
Somerville reached Butler’s wife, Brenda.
“She was ecstatic,” Somerville said.
The woman explained that her husband had come to Alberta to search for work, carrying $1,000 in cash, all in $20 bills.
The Butlers had borrowed $1,000 so Patrick could come to Alberta to hunt for a job, which he found with Frac Water Solutions at Consort.
He had to attend a course in Calgary on Aug. 8, and during the return trip, he had stopped for a break near Gadsby, where he lost his wallet.
Somerville got the Butlers’ address and mailed the wallet and cash to them immediately.
“I was excited — I felt on top of the world,” Sommerville said.
After lunch, Sommerville returned to the Gadsby site to finish his work and found another $60 to make a total of $705 recovered. He gave the Butlers another call, and mailed that cash as well.
The Independent contacted the Butlers on Monday and they had just received the package from Sommerville that morning.
“I couldn’t believe it — I never thought I would see it again,” Patrick Butler said from his Newfoundland home.
“It’s unbelievable — the money was lying in the ditch for over a month, and to have it found and returned is unbelievable.”
Butler said he met many friendly people in Alberta during the month he worked in the province. He returned to Newfoundland in time for moose-hunting season and plans to return to work in Alberta again at the end of September.
“I really want to look John up and thank him personally,” Butler said.
“This certainly restores one’s faith in humanity,” his wife said.
She said the wallet was a gift and also had sentimental value.
“When John called, I told him to keep some money as a reward, but he wouldn’t take anything. We can’t express our appreciation enough — nobody appreciates this more than we do.”