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'He's really shaken up': Homeless advocate posts dumpster video online

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Early Wednesday morning when most of Moncton, N.B., was still in bed a man sleeping inside a downtown dumpster went through a near-death experience.

Surveillance video from the Humanity Project, a service that feeds and supports the city’s homeless population, was posted online Friday and shows a man being dumped into a garbage truck from a dumpster.

Humanity Project fonder Charlie Burrell posted the video with a viewer discretion warning.

The man can clearly be heard screaming as a dumpster full of cardboard he was sleeping in was dumped into the back of a truck.

He was rescued by members of the Moncton Fire Department at the intersection of St. George and High streets shortly after.

"There's a lot of people that are in tents or makeshift shelters," said Burrell. "And unfortunately, they're left with either, stay outside in the harsh elements or climb inside of a dumpster to try and keep out of the wind and stay warm. I think we as a society can do better than that."

Burrell said the man did not want to share his story with the media, but did say he is okay.

He said the harsh reality of homelessness means there are a lot of people sleeping in tents or makeshift shelters.

“And unfortunately, they're left with either, stay outside in the harsh elements or climb inside of a dumpster to try and keep out of the wind and stay warm. I think we as a society can do better than that,” said Burrell.

A Good Samaritan who was biking on St. George Street at the time saw the man yelling for help from the top of the garbage truck and called 911, possibly saving his life.

The woman declined an interview, but was relieved to hear the man was okay.

“He's doing alright,” said Burrell. “He's really shaken up. I can't even imagine how scared he must have been when that happened. If it was me, I would have been scared for my life.”

Homeless advocate John Renton has also been in touch with the man since his ordeal and said he had to do whatever it took to survive.

“He still can’t speak. He was yelling so loudly in the back of the truck he’s hoarse today,” said Renton. “He’s still in the same situation he was before this happened. He’s un-housed. He’s on the streets. It’s not a great way to live.”

Those living on the street say a dumpster full of cardboard can be warm place to stay, but not a safe one.

“It’s a good source of heat. Well, as much heat as you can get from it,” said Jeremy Leger. “You've got four walls and a roof I guess, but that is the dangerous part. You never know when that truck is going to show up.”

Renton said sleeping in dumpsters happens frequently.

“Many people that aren’t going to the shelters, for whatever reason, have to find some place to survive and if it’s a stormy night, yes, they’ll jump in a cardboard shelter preferably,” said Renton.

Burrell said he noticed a garbage truck driver shake a dumpster a few times during a pickup on Friday.

He said the driver then waited before dumping it.

“I think with the colder weather coming, and this isn’t an uncommon occurrence, it’s just better safe than sorry to kind of give it a second. Maybe a bit of a shake to see if anyone’s in there,” said Burrell.

Moncton Fire Department chief Conrad Landry said the incident is concerning, but not surprising.

“We get calls all the time of people burning or going through garbage dumpsters, so it was just a matter of time,” said Landry.

Landy said the solution is obvious, but not necessarily practical.

“Lock the dumpsters,” said Landry. “If you want the driver to every time go search to make sure there’s nobody in it’s not going to be efficient for them.”

CTV News reached out to the trucking company on Friday for comment, but they chose not to. 

For more New Brunswick news visit our dedicated provincial page.

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