Man sleeping in trash bin unhurt after fall into garbage truck

Casey Grove
Anchorage Daily News /

A trash collector got a surprise Monday morning when he picked up a trash bin at an East Anchorage restaurant and dumped it into his garbage truck: A man fell out, landing in the truck's collection unit.

It happened about 7:10 a.m. at the Kentucky Fried Chicken off Bragaw Street, according to police, who did not get the name of the man sleeping in the Solid Waste Services bin, a police spokeswoman said. He was apparently uninjured and had not broken the law, she said.

Homeless people crawl into the plastic-covered, metal bins from time to time to get out of the weather and stay warm for the night, said Paul Alcantar, director of city-owned Solid Waste Services. There is often cardboard inside that a person can use to insulate themselves, and the bin blocks rain or snow, Alcantar said.

"Our vehicles are equipped with cameras that show the stuff coming out of the Dumpster. It's kind of a safety thing. It also lets us know that it's empty," Alcantar said. "The driver saw this guy roll out. So he immediately shut everything down."

The man and his backpack landed in the truck's storage compartment, Alcantar said. He was not hurt, but he could not get out, according to the police spokeswoman, Anita Shell.

The driver made a quick call, and a police officer and some firefighters arrived, Shell said. The man was free from the garbage truck by 7:30 a.m., she said. The firefighters used a ladder to get him out, Alcantar said.

"He got his backpack out of there and he beat feet. He said something like, 'What are all these people doing here?'" Alcantar said.

It was unclear how soon the driver was going to compact the garbage, Alcantar said. They will generally fire up the compactor after picking up three to five loads, and then the unit smashes the trash down to one-fifth its original size, he said.

"Our drivers are pretty astute. They're pretty quick," Alcantar said. "They're trained to watch for this kind of thing. You never know what you might see in one of these Dumpsters. But our driver reacted just the way he was supposed to."

Reach Casey Grove at or 257-4343.