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Man rescued from Moncton garbage truck 'lucky to be alive'

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Charlie Burrell has seen it all.

The founder of Moncton’s Humanity Project has dedicated his life to helping the homeless, but he almost lost a man he’s trying to help.

Surveillance video of his property on St. George Street captured someone climbing into his cardboard dumpster at 4 a.m. on Wednesday to escape the cold.

A few hours later, the dumpster was picked up by a garbage truck and the man was dumped inside.

“I think he’s definitely lucky to be alive. If he would have been dropped into that dumpster right there, that’s trash. They compact that right away. I don’t think he would have had a chance,” said Burrell.

The Moncton Fire Department responded to a 911 call just after 7 a.m. Wednesday when a passerby heard the man screaming and called 911.

The man was rescued by ladder a half block away and was unharmed.

Burrell said he sees people sleeping in dumpsters all the time.

“It’s sad that people are going to die just trying to survive. And the most ironic thing is you look on the dumpster and one says Be Safe and one says Be Healthy and yet you have somebody who was almost crushed by a truck,” said Burrell.

Moncton Fire Department Platoon Chief Mike Lake said people being dumped into garbage trucks has happened a few times in the past four or five years in the city, and the fire department does receive a lot of calls of people in dumpsters.

“For the amount of garbage bin fires we got to, for the amount of fires we go to where someone is in the garbage bin trying to keep warm, for the number of times we go to ODs, to other medical problems with an individual in a garbage bin and the number of people reported sleeping in garbage bins, the fact that this doesn’t happen more often is very surprising,” said Lake.

Sadly, sleeping in dumpsters is common among people who live on the streets.

Jeremy Leger said it’s especially the case when cardboard is involved.

“It’s not filled with trash. Cardboard keeps most of the heat in. You’ve got walls and a roof so even the rain is partially blocked,” said Leger.

Some don’t want to go to a shelter no matter how cold it gets.

“Shelters have a lot of rules,” said Lise Gautreau. “You’ve got to be in for a certain time. A lot of them treat us like nobodies pretty much.“

Burrell said being out on the streets and being homeless is no joke.

“It’s not a vacation. It’s survival and that’s all they’re trying to do is just survive,” said Burrell.

There is relief in sight for Moncton’s homeless population that are trying to get out of the cold.

Dan Brooks, the executive director of the John Howard Society in Moncton, confirmed to CTV News on Thursday the 60-bed shelter on St. George Street will begin welcoming overnight clients starting Friday.

For more New Brunswick news visit our dedicated provincial page.

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