A man who fell asleep in a dumpster woke up in the back of a garbage truck.
San Francisco firefighters had to rescue the man who became stuck inside a Recology cardboard recycling truck early Tuesday morning.
The truck driver said he was doing his normal routine at about 6:30 a.m. – lifting trash into his truck – when he heard yelling from the back of the truck. He drove straight to the nearby fire station at 16th and Irving streets to get the man out.
Veteran firefighters who helped free the man are calling the bizarre rescue “a first.”
The man was partially crushed by the truck’s hydraulic system, which is used to compact the cardboard to make more room. He suffered shoulder injuries but is expected to be OK.
Recology spokesman Robert Reed said 20-year veteran driver Mike Jones immediately shut the hydraulic system off when he realized what was happening.
“He heard this gentleman pounding in the back of the truck,” Reed said. “He actually talked to the gentleman from the cab of the truck and said ‘I’m going to drive you to the fire station.’”
The man was awake enough to mumble responses back to the firefighters and paramedics as they wheeled him to a waiting ambulance.
Authorities said it appears the older man was sleeping in the dumpster when it was picked up and tossed into the back of the Recology truck.
The driver’s quick actions earned Jones a nice title from Battalion Chief Smith.
“If he hadn’t heard him, he would have been trapped in that all day long and may have died,” Smith said. “So he is a hero. He saved his life.”
Had the man remained in the truck, he would have ended across town at Recology’s Recycle Central at Pier 96, dumped onto a tipping floor larger than basketball court with recyclables piled up 20 feet high.
Jones went through a debriefing with the company safety team and then went back to finish his route.