Lost luggage

A surveillance photo shows the vehicle of the family that lost a piece of luggage at a Clifton gas station. A Phoenix family’s lost luggage was found in Clifton The satchel full of presents was returned with the help of strangers. Special to the Sentinel.

One bag of luggage will be making its way back home this week after getting lost in Clifton for more than a week.

A family had just finished visiting Denver and Silverthorne over the New Year holiday and was headed back home to Phoenix when they stopped for gas in Clifton on Jan. 2.

Then it was back on the road again, homeward bound. But what they didn’t realize was their luggage wasn’t still with them.

They were all the way back in Flagstaff when they realized the luggage rack on the back of their vehicle had fallen off and with it a bag full of Christmas presents and other items were gone.

“I had given up hope,” Matthew Moore said, after calling sheriff’s offices and highway patrol across Utah. “I could have sworn I saw it (when stopping) in Moab.”

In reality, the bag never made it out of the Clifton gas station. An unknown person spotted it and turned it into the gas station attendant, who held onto it in case somebody came by to pick it up. When that didn’t happen, the attendant then gave the luggage to the Mesa County Sheriff’s Office.

Using traffic cameras the Sheriff’s Office spotted the appropriate license plate and gave Moore a call on Monday after confirming it was his lost bag.

“I don’t know all of the tactics he used exactly, but I’m very thankful for the work he did for me,” Moore said. “We’re so grateful to the group of people that tried to help us. Thanks to the area for helping out a family from Phoenix.”

Getting that precious cargo back was a huge relief for the Moore family.

“(The bag) was full of Christmas presents we received, many sentimental things from family and borrowed snow and ski gear, a lot of which wasn’t even ours,” he said.

Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Megan Terlecky said the investigator on the case continued to dig and “got lucky,” but the whole situation showed her what an incredible community we live in.

“This is another example of people in the community doing great things for other people, a complete stranger in this case,” she said. “We may never know who the person was who pulled the luggage off the street.

“Personally one of the reasons I love to live in this community is because people will go out of their way to help others,” she added.

Moore said his family (wife, four boys and a dog) make the trip from Phoenix to Denver several times a year and they now have Clifton circled for future stops. “I feel like we owe it to Clifton to stop at that gas station to fill up,” he said.

Terlecky advised anybody going on a long trip to just make sure that they secure their stuff as well as possible and write down their serial numbers for their appliances, electronics, bikes and more.

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