updated 11/20/2004 8:25:09 PM ET 2004-11-21T01:25:09

Two college students returned a lost purse to its owner, not knowing the handbag contained her life savings of $43,000.

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Derek Hepner and Adam Simanton spotted the purse lying in the gutter of a Casper street Monday as they drove past it. Stopping to examine the bag, they pulled out a wallet and an Arizona driver’s license and immediately took the purse to police.

What they didn’t see was an envelope containing $43,000 in cash that was the owner’s life savings, police Sgt. Larry Baker said.

The owner had been traveling through Casper and apparently misplaced her purse during a stop, police said.

The woman phoned Hepner on Thursday to inform him of a $200 reward for the two Casper College students. Hepner is studying criminal justice, and Simanton plans to be a lawyer.

“I can’t believe we had that much money in our possession and didn’t even know it,” Simanton said.

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