This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2008, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
An 18-year-old Southern Utah University custodian didn't think twice about what to do when he found more than $100,000 in cash in one of the school's public parking lots last month.
He gave it back.
"Right when I found it I kind of knew what I had to do because my dad's a cop," Jared Gray said. "He raised me to be honest and do the right thing."
On April 16, Gray arrived at work about 5:45 p.m. He was walking through a school parking lot when he spotted a plastic bag in an empty stall with "$108,000" written on it.
He didn't open it.
"He knew what it was as soon as he saw it," said Jennifer Burt, SUU director of communications.
Gray was familiar with the money bags the school used because he had come across them during his work.
Burt said the bag was accidentally dropped as it was being transferred from the school to the bank that day. It had only been in the parking lot for a few minutes before Gray found it, she said.
"I think that's the most money I've held in my hands ever at one time," Gray said.
Without hesitating, Gray called his uncle, who works at SUU as a campus police officer, and reported the missing money. His uncle, who was off-duty at the time, called an on-duty campus police officer who met Gray.
"He was like, 'Thanks, you really saved us,' " Gray said.
The Southwest Education Academy student said "a few teenagers" have teased him for returning the money, but most people praised him.
"I'd do [the same thing] all over again," he said.
SUU Police Chief Rick Brown contacted Gray and thanked him in person. One officer gave Gray $20 out of his own pocket. He used it to put gas in his car.
And an employee from the school's cashier's office also thanked him by baking him a batch of M&M cookies, he said.
Gray said his parents were proud of him for doing the right thing, and the school was obviously grateful too.
Burt said if Gray wants to attend school at SUU in the future, the university will offer to pay for some of his education to show its thanks.
"We're grateful to Jared," she said. "It's more than I would expect from most 18-year-olds who find that amount of money."