Investigators: 2 men found dead at Tallahassee, FL transfer station were compacted

Dive Brief:

  • Last year, workers at the Leon County Transfer Station in Tallahassee, FL found two bodies — two months apart — and investigators now believe they know where they came from, as reported by the Tallahassee Democrat.
  • The two men, Anthony Todd and William Norris, were both believed to be sleeping in dumpsters. Todd may have had a seizure and fallen asleep. The toxicology report for Norris showed an elevated blood alcohol level.
  • Both men are thought to have died after their respective dumpsters were emptied into collection trucks. Medical examiners in each case noted that the injuries were consistent with being crushed to death by the truck compactors.

Dive Insight:

These incidents have raised awareness about dumpster safety, particularly for members of the local homeless population, though no easy solution is available. At least one of the dumpsters had a sign warning people to keep out due to a "crushing hazard" and drivers may not have the time to check inside each container they collect.

Industry trade associations have addressed this issue in the past, advising drivers to keep their radio volume low so they can hear movement, and pausing before compacting the load. Haulers also advise keeping containers locked when possible. People sleeping behind or between containers can also be a hazard and is one of the reasons that Seattle recently banned dumpsters along one commercial corridor.

Despite such precautions these types of incidents are still too common and often fatal. One California man survived two cycles of compaction in 2015, but once someone ends up inside a truck it's often too late. In the U.K., at least 11 such deaths have been reported over the past five years and waste hauler Biffa reported finding 175 people sleeping in its bins during the 2015 financial year.

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Filed Under: Landfill
Top image credit: Flickr