Tribune-Star staff report
TERRE HAUTE —
When a trash hauler working for Republic Services of Western Indiana heard a scream as he emptied a dumpster in North Terre Haute Tuesday, he took no chances.
He turned off his truck, checked inside (although he didn’t see or hear anyone) and called a supervisor.
“We called 911 to get emergency crews out here to check it out,” said Bill Edington, operations supervisor with Republic, who also went to the scene in the 6200 block of North Clinton Street.
Turns out, it was a false alarm and no one — fortunately — was inside the garbage collection truck.
Emergency response agencies at the scene included the Otter Creek Volunteer Fire Department, the Sugar Creek command vehicle and technical rescue and Vigo County Sheriff’s Department.
The incident occurred around 10 a.m., and Clinton Street was briefly closed in that area.
Responders got inside the trash truck and checked it from front to back to make sure no one was inside, said Brad Stott, Otter Creek fire chief.
The driver of the garbage truck “was concerned there might be someone in the trash receptacle part of it. He did probably what he should do — be safe and call in,” Stott said.
He noted there was a tragic incident in Terre Haute a few months ago. In April, a Connecticut man who had sought shelter in a trash bin died of suffocation after being trapped inside a garbage collection truck. The truck had emptied the bin, and the man later died and his girlfriend was seriously injured.
“I’m sure trash truck drivers are alert to what they are hearing going on with their vehicles and around their vehicles,” Stott said.
Kenny Depasse, Republic governmental affairs director, said, “All of our folks are conscious of the situation [that occurred in April], and they go to great lengths to make sure there is no accident in the future.”
Republic always has and continues to do safety training “to prevent any type of accident or tragedy,” DePasse said. He commended the driver and the emergency responders.