NYC woman recovers life savings thrown out with old fridge

Nadine Kalinauskas
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A Queens, New York, woman has been reunited with her life savings after she accidentally threw them out — with her refrigerator.

Magda Castillo had stashed $5020 in one of the doors of her refrigerator. She completely forgot about the money, however, when her sister helped her toss the old appliance last Wednesday.

That evening, she remembered the money — and panicked.

"When I remembered I left my money in there, it was too late," Castillo, who works for Walsh-Labella & Son Funeral Home in Glendale, Queens, told the New York Daily News.

"I live alone, and to me, that's the best place to put my money."

The next morning, Castillo arrived at Atlantic Recycling in Ozone Park and shared her story with tow-truck driver Fred Alsterberg. He hunted for the fridge in vain.

Disappointed, Castillo left the scrap yard without leaving her name or number.

"She went like this (made the sign of the cross) and said 'I had $5,000 in there,'" Alsterberg, told WABC.

Fifteen minutes later, scrap yard manager Mike Downer arrived for work. Alsterberg told him about Castillo's fridge. Remarkably, Downer remembered the appliance from the day before and was able to locate it, now smashed and wedged between two vehicles.

The two men worked together to pry open the refrigerator. Sure enough, two plastic bags of money were inside it.

Because they had no contact information for Castillo, they alerted the media.

"If somebody loses something, if you can help them, help them. It doesn't cost me anything to help her find her money, so it was just the right thing to do," Downer told NY1.

Castillo saw the story on the news that afternoon.

"In the afternoon, I saw on the TV they found my money," the Cuban-born Castillo recalled. "I said, 'Oh my God, I'm very happy.'"

Castillo offered Downer a $300 reward — and has vowed to keep her money at the bank from now on.

"Now I go to bank to open an account!" a grateful Castillo told WABC.