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Purse lost, caught at sea

Associated Press
Published January 27, 2005

FORT LAUDERDALE - As purse snatchings go, hers was an odd one. A gust ripped Arlene Sulkes-Spieler's purse from her arm and flung it into the ocean.

As fishing hauls go, his was even odder. From 600 feet in the cold dark sea, Vincent Russo retrieved the big red bag in a net full of flopping haddock.

"It's kind of an unbelievable story," Sulkes-Spieler said.

The Hollywood retiree was reunited with the purse - and more than $500 in cash.

In August, Sulkes-Spieler was vacationing with her husband Abraham off the coast of Cape Cod on a whale-watching tour.

"It was windy and cold," she said. "... I heard a whoosh, and the wind blew my bag off my arm. I looked down and there was my bag in the middle of the ocean."

The red tapestry purse paused, then dipped beneath the waves.

More than three months later, Russo, owner of Miss Trish II, was about 20 miles off the cape, scouring the bottom for flounder or haddock. A commotion erupted among his five-man crew when they emptied a net on the deck.

"There was this purse," said Russo, 46, from his Gloucester, Mass., home. A couple of laughing crewmen tore at the bag with gaff hooks. "Cash started coming out." The purse was a loss, but Russo's wife Jane dried the salvageable credit cards, cash and other contents and, after a call, mailed them to Sulkes-Spieler.

[Last modified January 27, 2005, 00:40:21]

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