Magda Castillo forgot she had stored her life savings in the machine when she tossed it. A worker at Atlantic Recycling recalled where it was, dug it out and found the cash.
She got her cold hard cash back.
A Queens woman who got rid of her old refrigerator — forgetting that she had hidden her life savings inside — was reunited with the dough Tuesday.
“Can I kiss you?” a beaming Magda Castillo asked as she wrapped her arms around scrap yard manager Mike Downer, who dug out her old appliance and found the money.
Castillo’s ordeal began Wednesday when she tossed her 5-foot Frigidaire, forgetting she had stored $5,020 in cash in one of its doors.
It wasn’t until Wednesday night that the Kew Gardens woman realized her mistake.
"When I remembered I left my money in there, it was too late," said Castillo, who works for Walsh-Labella & Son Funeral Home in Glendale, Queens. “I live alone, and to me, that's the best place to put my money.”
She returned to Atlantic Recycling in South Ozone Park in a panic early Thursday and explained to a worker what happened.
Tow truck driver Fred Alsterberg hunted for the fridge, but couldn’t find it amid the piles of scrap metal and car parts.
“She made the sign of the cross and left,” Alsterberg said. “She assumed it was gone and there was no way to get it back.”
Downer showed up for work 15 minutes after a dejected Castillo took off.
He vaguely remembered where the appliance had been dumped.
Sure enough, Downer found the fridge pancaked between two cars.
He and Alsterberg pried it open, and out tumbled two black plastic bags containing stacks of $100s, $50s and $20s.
The pair drove around the neighborhood in a tow truck for 45 minutes looking for Castillo, who didn’t leave her number.
They couldn't find her, so the workers decided to alert the media.
When Castillo saw the story on the news, she jumped for joy.
“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.’”
Downer, the father of a 20-month-old girl, said it never occurred to him to keep the cash.
"I didn't need her money. It's the right thing to do," he said.
"It's not my money. I'm supposed to find out whose it is."
"I'm just glad she got her money back and she can pay her mortgage,” Downer added.
Castillo pressed a $300 reward on him.
For her part, Castillo said she learned her lesson. From now on, she’s going to keep her money in a much safer place.
“No more,” Castillo said. “Now I go to the bank, and I opened an account.”