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5:13 PM Fri, Nov. 16th

Community View | It was gone, but then it wasn’t

Have you ever lost something important and knew it was gone forever?

Mark Murphy was moving from Florida to Northern California to find work. By profession, he is a wildland firefighter. Mark had purchased many articles of clothing and protective gear for the job. These are very expensive and well-made to protect you from the rigors of fighting forest fires and the like.

Mark had stopped in Bakersfield, California for gasoline and a break. When walking to the back of his Jeep to access the fuel cap he saw to his horror that his backpack wasgone.

This backpack was full of all the gear he needed for his job. The empty straps were just hanging. Panic set in and his heart began racing. He felt sick to his stomach and just walked back and forth knowing there was nothing he could do to fix this tragedy.

ABF drivers leave Kingman and drive into California on a regular schedule. On Sept. 25, one driver was heading west on Interstate 40 near milepost 95. It was close to 9 p.m. and the sun was down, so there was not much light. Out on the edge of his headlights, he spotted something on the side of the road. Trash? A big box? As he got closer, he made out the shape of a big backpack. He zoomed by at the brisk pace of 55 mph. (Brisk? Just Kidding!) He thought for a moment to stop, but he was already several hundred yards past it. He called the driver behind him on his hands-free cellphone. Dan Haupt was 45 or 50 minutes behind him.

Haupt was instructed to keep an eye out when he neared Essex and milepost 95. At around 10 p.m., Dan was close to the site. Near Essex, Dan spotted something in his headlights. He instinctively slowed down. Sure enough, it was a backpack. He stopped, jumped out and grabbed the huge, overstuffed pack and threw it in the truck. It was heavy, and he went on to his destination in Fontana, California.

When Haupt was off duty and at the motel, he took the time to find out what the backpack was, and, if possible, whose it was. He found firefighter gear in the large section, only going deep enough to know it is important stuff. Dan closes the pouch and opens a small pouch on top. He found several receipts for gas and other items, but no name and no numbers. He kept looking.

With the last receipt (yes, the last and the only one with good information) Haupt found Mark Murphy’s name and phone number! Haupt called Murphy and asked if he lost something. Yes, of course, he did. Murphy described the pack to Haupt, and he was sure he had found the owner.

Murphy is in Bakersfield for the night and on his way to the San Francisco area. Once a week or so, Haupt gets a route to Fresno and suggested to Murphy when he does, he will call and Murphy can drive to Fresno to retrieve the backpack.

As fate would have it, Haupt does not get a trip that way. Almost two weeks pass, and Haupt calls Murphy to ask for his address so the pack can be shipped. At his own expense, Haupt boxes and ships the 41-pound pack to Murphy. The backpack was delivered to one very happy owner. (Mark did reimburse Dan for the cost of shipping.)

As a subnote, it is too bad ABF will be moving its depot to Fort Mohave, near Needles, California. Many drivers might move, and Kingman will lose some good, considerate people.