Man sleeping in trash bin picked up by garbage truck
Suncoast NewsST. PETERSBURG - Shortly after he dumped the contents of a trash bin into the back of his truck Monday morning, city sanitation worker Antwain Scott noticed something peculiar.
Published: July 27, 2009
Published: July 27, 2009
The piles of day-old Chinese food and other garbage were rustling around. When Scott looked closer, he realized a person was trapped in the truck's hopper.
And the man was frantically trying to get Scott's attention.
"I just happened to see him back there, just waving and what not," Scott, a 12-year employee with the St. Petersburg Sanitation Department said. "I was like, stunned."
Scott had looked at a monitor in the cab of his truck showing a live feed from the hopper when he spotted 52-year-old Kevin Hallaran. Although it was still dark, a light on the camera inside the hopper gave Scott just enough light to see the unexpected passenger.
The homeless man got the jolting wake-up call because he slept inside a dumpster behind a restaurant at 2001 34th St. N. on Sunday night to get out of the rain, St. Petersburg Fire and Rescue officials said.
Scott had unknowingly dumped Halleran, along with the garbage from the restaurant and other businesses, about 6 a.m. Monday.
"It's a black lid over a black container and it's pitch dark that early in the morning," Scott said.
Scott then continued on his route, but the rumbling truck made so much noise while moving that no one heard Hallaran yelling for help. If Scott hadn't glanced at the monitor, Halleran may have been in serious trouble, sanitation supervisor Merion Moody said.
"Thank God Antwain saw Hallaran in the camera or it could have been a different outcome," Moody said.
When firefighters responded to the emergency call, they heard Halleran banging on the metal sides of the garbage truck.
"He got the ride of his life," firefighter Kevin Dooley said.
Rescue crews lowered a ladder into the back of the truck to fetch Halleran, who had minor injuries, fire and rescue spokesman Lt. Joel Granata said. Halleran was taken to Ed White Hospital in St. Petersburg where he was treated and released.
Hallaran could not be reached for comment Monday.
Scott said before he noticed Halleran, the truck's hydraulic compactor, which pushes garbage back and forth, had been activated. Even with the compactor on, there was not enough trash to smother Halleran.
"Lucky for him the truck was fairly empty," said sanitation worker Casius Randolph, who was working with Scott on Monday morning. "If the truck had been half-way full, the pressure from the hydraulic system would have crushed him."
Randolph said he climbed to the top of the truck and heard Halleran asking for help. Randolph, a four-year sanitation employee, said he told Halleran paramedics were on the way and to stay calm.
"He was scared, but OK," Randolph said. "He was just wanting to get out of the truck."
Reporter Ray Reyes can be reached at (813) 259-7920. Reporter Yolanda Fernandez can be reached at (813) 221-2746.