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Trooper goes the extra mile to return woman's wallet

Published: Wednesday, Aug. 13 2014 2:07 p.m. MDT

Utah Highway Trooper Neil Ekberg was finishing a traffic stop July 23, 2014, near the Jeremy Ranch exit of I-80 when he saw something fly off of a car. It was a wallet containing important documents.

Jay Dortzbach, Deseret News

PARK CITY — Brittany May is all smiles now, but what happened to her recently could have gone badly if not for the actions of one Utah Highway Patrol trooper.

She lost her wallet, which contained her credit cards, driver’s license, Social Security card and passport.

On July 23, May had a lot on her mind. She was finishing school, in the process of moving to Provo and had just adopted two children, ages 4 and 6.

May was also getting ready to begin her career as a professor at BYU. She had been doing paperwork for her new job that day, which is why she had her Social Security card and passport with her.

On her way to Midway, she stopped at a Phillips 66 gas station near Jeremy Ranch. While filling up her gas tank, she was also texting a friend.

"I was really distracted," May said.

Without thinking, May put her wallet on the trunk of her car. Once her tank was full, she drove off, forgetting about her wallet.

It wasn’t until she got home that she realized her wallet was missing.

"I couldn't remember exactly what I did with the wallet," May said. “Did I really put it on my car? Did I stick it back in my bag?”

Frantically, she called the gas station to see if they had found her wallet. Employees looked around but couldn’t find it. She rushed back to the gas station to see if she could find it herself.

Within minutes of arriving, she got a call from Utah Highway Patrol trooper Neil Ekberg, who told her he had her wallet.

Ekberg was finishing up a traffic stop when he saw something flying from a car.

“As soon as it hit the ground, it pretty much exploded,” he said. “There were like 20 cars that immediately hit it.”

Ekberg stopped traffic and began picking up receipts, credit cards and the passport.

He sent a trooper to her home in Midway, but May was at the gas station. Ekberg eventually got a hold of her, and they decided to meet in Park City.

Once they met, Ekberg asked May to look over the contents of her wallet to make sure everything was there. If anything was missing, he said he would go back to where the wallet fell and see whether he could find the missing items.

“She was looking through her wallet frantically,” he said.

May was so happy and grateful for what he had done for her that she didn’t want to tell him that two things were missing: her Social Security card and her LDS temple recommend.

Ekberg went back to where he found the wallet.

“I probably won’t find anything,” he said. “I’m just going to go over there and see what I can find.”

There was some trash on the highway, but Ekberg found both missing items.

"I think I thanked him like a million times. It really was above and beyond," May said.

“I was just doing my job,” he said.

May and her family wrote a letter to Gov. Gary Herbert recognizing Ekberg for his work.

She was without her wallet for about 45 minutes. In that time, she was concerned about having to replace all of the documents, and then there was the possibility that her information could be used for identity theft.

“It was really fortunate that officer Ekberg was there,” May said. “It could have been a much more interesting story in a bad way.”

Contributing: Devon Dolan

Email: vvo-duc@deseretnews.com

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