Homeless man dies after sleeping in bin
A homeless man has died after suffering leg and pelvis injuries after getting stuck in a refuse truck, an investigation has concluded.
On January 8 this year, forty-eight-year-old Russell Lane had been sleeping in a bin in Rochester, Kent, wrapped in a roll of carpet, when the bin was emptied.
Waste collection company Veolia confirmed at the time that that its Sleepsafe procedure, which aims to protects those who sleep in bins, had been carried out. However, Mr Lane did not wake up and was hidden from view under the carpet.
Emergency services were immediately called to Rochester High Street, but it has now been confirmed that he died in hospital several weeks later, on February 17.
A spokesperson for Kent Police James Walker commented: “Following his death, Kent Police was asked to investigate if there were any suspicious circumstances. This investigation has since concluded that there are no suspicious circumstances and a report is being prepared for the coroner.”
In a statement, Veolia said: "We were saddened to hear of this tragic death and our thoughts and condolences remain with the family of the deceased. Health and safety is our absolute priority and we are continuing to cooperate with the relevant authorities while the investigation is ongoing."
This tragic incident is a further reminder of the risks associated with sleeping in bins – both in cases involving homeless individuals, or those on a night out. While sheltered, padded bins seem like a good location to sleep, those sleeping in them are hard to detect and can put themselves at risk of serious injury or death both from falls into collection vehicles and the compressing machinery within them.
Last year, a report by waste management company Biffa found that an average of three people a week are found sleeping in bins collected by the company, and despite safety checks by staff, Biffa drivers are instructed to check large commercial bins and collection vehicles now have cameras to see what is being tipped inside – there have been several fatal incidents over the past year.
Just before Christmas last year twenty-eight-year-old Jay McLaren was found dead at a recycling plant after sleeping in a bin following a night out in Sunderland town centre, while last July there was a large-scale search for the body of RAF gunner Corrie McKeague who, it is believed, fell asleep in a bin in Bury St Edmunds before being unknowingly taken to landfill or incineration.
Those putting themselves at risk include people coming home from after a night out, and those sleeping rough, often as a result of the recent rise in homelessness. Government figures suggest that homelessness increased by 30 per cent between 2014/15 and 2015/16, and Biffa has reported that the number of people found sleeping in the bins had increased dramatically during this period. In 2013/14, 31 rough sleepers were found by the company, a year later the number had risen to 93, and in 2015/16 it reached 175.