Donna Alger said her friend Kaily Land, who was homeless, would often go into donation boxes looking for clothes.
But, Alger told KTVU, the 30-year-old woman from Petaluma, California, had one rule.
“I just saw her last week at 7-Eleven and I said ‘You need to be careful going into those boxes,’ ” Alger told KTVU. “And she said, ‘Well, I never do it alone.’
“Somebody would always have to hold it open, she never did this alone,” Alger continued in her interview with KTVU. “She’s been doing this for years, always with someone with her.“
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The Sacramento Bee
But police say it appears that Land tried to go into a donation bin in Petaluma by herself — and was killed because of it, according to NBC.
It was early Wednesday morning when police say they received reports of a person who appeared to be stuck inside of a donation bin, as reported by NBC. The woman was already dead by the time officers tried to save her, police say, and there was no sign of foul play.
It appears Land had been rummaging through the bin with a flashlight when the box’s lid “pushed up against her neck, which may have caused her to suffocate,” Petaluma police Lt. Tim Lyons told The Press Democrat. Half of her body was pinned inside the bin, police say, while her legs and feet were hanging outside of it.
In an interview with KTVU, Lyons explained how the donation bin might have strangled the 30-year-old.
“As you try and pull yourself out of it, the mechanism tightens and closes further,” Lyons told KTVU. “She obviously dropped the flashlight and the door came up, and caught her in the neck area, and we think she asphyxiated from being trapped inside.”
Police are still investigating her cause of death, according to The San Francisco Chronicle.
Andy Dusanjh — owner of Steel Bear Deli, which has the donation bin outside — told The Press Democrat that he would sometimes see Land in his store or going through garbage cans. Luis Cendejas, an employee at the deli, said a Red Bull deliveryman saw Land stuck in the bin on Wednesday morning and called 911.
“I was scared,” he told The Press Democrat. “She was not moving.”