Man Recovers Important Documents, Photos Accidentally Thrown Out Amid 4 Tons of Trash

His story involves chasing down a recycling truck and some dumpster diving.

August 12, 2015, 3:22 PM

— -- Finding a white garbage bag amid four tons of trash may be like trying to find a needle in a haystack, but that's exactly what one recycling facility plant manager did after an elderly couple accidentally threw out important documents, including tax forms and priceless, old family photos.

Albuquerque, New Mexico, resident Darlene Durrwachter and her husband, Rudy Durrwachter, 84, were going through stashes of documents a few weeks ago to do their income taxes and put them away in garbage bag to organize at a later date, she told ABC News.

But after their granddaughters came over to help them take out the trash, the bag was "inadvertently thrown in a recycle can" that was picked up by a truck headed to Friedman Recycling Facility, where it was fated to join tons upon tons of recycled trash, Durrwachter said.

"My husband realized the important documents were thrown away, and we were all panicked beyond belief," she said. "We called my daughter, and my son-in-law happened to be on his day off, so he came over and worked with my husband to call the sanitation department, the recycle department and all these departments to find out where the truck had gone."

Durrwachter said someone from the sanitation department was able to find the number of truck, and her husband and son-in-law were able to stop it in the street. But the driver said there was no way they could open the truck in the middle of the road, she said.

So the two sped over to Friedman Recycling Facility to see whether they could get help there, plant manager Robert Taylor told ABC News today. "The elderly gentleman and his son-in-law showed up in the front office in dire straits," he said.

PHOTO: The manager of a recycling facility in New Mexico went the extra mile to reunite Rudy Durrwachter with his personal documents and photos.
The manager of a recycling facility in New Mexico went the extra mile to reunite Rudy Durrwachter with his personal documents and photos.

Luckily, they beat the truck, so they sat and waited for it to come, Taylor added, saying that when it finally arrived he had its contents laid out in a cleared space.

Durrwachter's husband watched as her son-in-law, who was given a hardhat, glasses, a vest and gloves, dug through the four tons of trash spread out, she said.

Only 10 minutes later, Durrwachter's son-in-law spotted a piece of mail with their road on it, so he knew they had to be close to the bag, she said.

"With some divine intervention, I found the bag," Taylor, the plant manager, said. "It was a good feeling. This kind of thing very rarely ever happens."

Durrwachter said they were fortunate that the bag had gone with recycling rather than with regular garbage, so they didn't have to do much sanitizing. They just dumped the important files and photos out and threw the trash bag away.

She added that her husband and son-in-law took a long shower when they came back and they thanked everyone at the recycling plant for helping them with their "little miracle."

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