A Rio Linda man had the ride of his life Tuesday after being scooped up by a garbage truck.
The man, 49, said he was inside a dumpster in North Highlands looking for his wallet when a garbage truck on its way to the Yolo County landfill made a routine stop to empty the dumpster. The man was tossed inside the compressor of the truck, surviving for hours amid the trash only because the truck didn’t fill up.
“He was lucky the truck was only half full,” said Lt. Martin Torres of the Yolo County Sheriff’s Office. “Had it been full, he would have certainly been crushed and suffocated to death.”
The man told police he grabbed lumber and hard objects in the trash every time he could to “build a coffin around himself,” Torres said. The man estimated he was in the truck for an hour, but the driver said it had been at least three hours since his last stop in North Highlands.
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Torres said the man appeared uninjured, but complained of neck and back pain. He was transported to the UC Davis Medical Center to be checked out.
The dumpster truck – owned by Atlas Disposal – has a blade that sweeps garbage toward the back of the truck and compresses it to almost a third of its size. The garbage is then dumped at the landfill, where bulldozers spread it around.
The driver, who controls the truck remotely, apparently noticed the man get dumped out with the garbage in the landfill and ran back to stop the bulldozer from running him over, Torres explained.
“The driver was pretty much a hero for that,” Torres said. He said that in the 27 years he’s worked for the department, he can’t remember a similar incident.
Nick Sikich, chief operating officer of Sacramento-based Atlas Disposal, called the incident unfortunate.
“While our driver had no idea of anyone in his load, we’re very glad and proud of our driver for spotting the man while dumping out his truck at the landfill. If he hadn’t, the landfill equipment could have come along and buried him. We hope the man is OK and had a speedy recovery from any injuries.”
Yolo County deputies declined to identify the man.
Call The Bee’s Ellen Garrison at (916) 321-1006.