After a day at work that began 5 a.m. Saturday, Peggy Ray was on her way to her daughter's soccer game when she witnessed a car fly through the air and crash into a drainage ditch.
Though shocked, Ray then did what any decent person would: She leaped from her car and ran to help the victims. When the Washington state woman returned to her car an hour or so later, the mother of six was in for another surprise.
While Ray, 36, assisted the badly injured driver and passenger, someone stole $900 from her purse. "I don't normally have that much cash," Ray of Marysville, Wash., told ABCnews.com, "but I was going to pay the rent."
The money she'd only just gotten from the bank was the last thing on Ray's mind when she went to the victims' aid. "The car flew through the air like the 'Dukes of Hazard,'" she said. "They were stuck in the car and it was smoking."
Ray's first thought was to get the driver and passenger out before the car caught fire. But the ominous smoke soon stopped pouring from the vehicle because it was filling with water from the ditch.
Compounding the trouble, the woman in the passenger's seat complained of neck and back pain and the driver was bleeding badly and, Ray said, seemed disoriented. So, while another Good Samaritan helped calm the driver, Ray spoke to the woman.
"I told her to stay calm and I asked her to tell me about her family and what she was doing prior to the accident," Ray said. "They were in bad shape."
Emergency personnel arrived at the scene and relieved Ray. She gave a statement to the police and returned to her car. "I had left my doors completely open. I saw my purse in there and the envelope was out of it and laying on its side. I thought there was no way that envelope was empty."
The envelope was empty, though. Ray ran back to police to report the crime. They told her that many people, at least 25, had stopped to catch a glimpse of the scene and believe the perpetrator was among them.
But all is not lost. A bystander at the scene called into a local paper after news of Ray's unfortunate circumstances spread and gave a description of a man whom he saw enter Ray's car, as well as the man's car. "I just hope karma is paid and this man is caught," Ray said.
Some karma already has been paid, in the form of $750 donated to Ray and her family by the firefighters from the scene of the accident. Ray has also received money from a radio station, as well as from individuals and customers from the Starbuck's she manages.
Any money above the $900, Ray and her husband plan to give to charity. Ray also plans to react the same way if she ever happens upon another accident. "The question I keep getting is, would I do it again? Absolutely," she said. "Only, I would lock my doors first."