McKinney mail carrier helps reconnect homeless Vietnam vet with nearly $10K in lost cash

A McKinney mail carrier is being celebrated for doing the right thing when she saw what ended up being $10,000 cash on the side of the road.

It took months for police to figure out who all the cash belonged to, but now it is back in the hands of its owner.

The story started on September 5 at 6:40 in the morning. Carolyn Norton was on her way to work at the post office, when she saw hundreds of $20 bills flying around the service road to North Central Expressway.

"It's a lot of money flying in the street!" Norton said in a call to 911.

[911 Operator: "Okay, there is money flying in the street?"]

"Yes," Norton replied.

[911 Operator: "How much money? Is it a large amount?"]

"Yes, a bunch of 20s," Norton said. "Oh my goodness." 

[911 Operator: "That is an odd situation, however, I don't think it is a police matter, do you see someone assaulted or injured?"]

Norton told FOX 4 the whole situation felt surreal.

"I don't think she understood the magnitude of what I was saying. I was tired of running after it. I didn't want other people to get it, if they weren't going to turn it in," she said of the 911 call. "I thought it was a dream, and thought, why are these other people not seeing this. As cars passed me, it was blowing up in the air, lots of it."

Cash collected from the side of the road (Source: McKinney Police Department)

When police arrived, they collected what turned out to be 483 $20 bills, along with other bills. The total added up to $9,988.

"Jiminy Christmas," an officer is heard saying on body camera video. "It's abandoned property, right."

By that time, others had spotted the cash as well.

"Y'all see where this money came from?" an officer asks.

"I wish I knew," a man in the area said. "Thought it was God looking out for me."

"You're too honest, man, keep it," said an officer.

Norton helped collect $411 before police arrived.

"I don't know where it came from, it was flying all over the place," Norto said in the body camera video.

Norton says she turned over every dollar.

"I would not keep one dime, because I would want someone to do that for me," she told FOX 4.

But no one came forward to claim the money. 

It stayed that way until McKinney Police reopened the case in December to actively search for the owner.

Police had a receipt identifying Anthony Jablonski and worked through database records to find one that linked him to a 1965 Chevrolet Chevelle involved in a crash early that September morning.

The tow yard was able to connect police with Jablonski's power of attorney, his pastor, Raymond Bell.

"I was the first person he could think of and they called me so I went to the hospital," said Bell.

Bell says Jablonski is a homeless Vietnam veteran who lived out of his Chevelle.

Bell showed FOX 4 photos of what was left of it after a semi hit him from behind.

What's not clear is when that money blew away. Bell says the accident happened several hours before Carolyn Norton found it.

"Miracle he is alive and then a miracle that Carolyn did what she did," said Bell. "She did what was right, that is one in a thousand."

"It made my heart happy that they found the person," Norton said.

 Bell says Jablonski is still recovering from his injures from the crash, but he is no longer homeless. The 75-year-old is now in a nursing home.