Greg Pickard is relieved to be able to tell the story of what happened to him and his dog, Shenda, one week ago.
That’s when the two of them were in a green recycling bin in Courtenay trying to escape the early morning chill on Oct. 27.
“Yeah, I dozed off and that’s when I hear this bang,” Pickard told CHEK News. “Boom. All of a sudden you’re going up over top of the hole and I went, ‘Oh no, there’s nothing in it,’ and down I went.”
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It was an Emterra Environmental recycling truck and Pickard says he actually saw the driver’s face on the way past the front windshield.
He and Shenda were then dumped more than three metres (10 feet) into the cavernous rear part of the truck.
“Then, ‘boom,’ and I was on my way through the air. I remember that part about just falling and then the truck just started moving,” said Pickard. “He was backing up, you could hear the back up beeper going, and I’m like, we’re stuck, there’s no hatches, there’s no handles, there’s no nothing.”
Pickard checks on Shenda, who is covered in cardboard and bleeding from the mouth. Greg then starts yelling as loud as he can and pounding on the side of the truck.
“My hand was like twice the size, I was hitting it as hard as I could to make as much noise because he wasn’t hearing me, and I can yell pretty loud,” he said.
And then he hears a voice outside.
“I heard somebody going, ‘Hey, hey!’ And so they’re getting his attention and they said there’s somebody in your truck. He’s like, ‘What?'”
Emergency crews are called and both Greg and Shenda are given medical attention.
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It’s a fortunate end to a story where others have ended in tragedy, including two homeless people dying in Victoria in 2018 and 2019.
Courtenay Mayor Bob Wells says it’s a stark reminder of the dangers unhoused people face, and the city is still trying to lock down an extreme weather shelter for the winter.
“We do have a taskforce that’s been working the last few weeks that’s really focused on trying to find a location, vet those locations and eventually have them up and running as soon as possible,” Wells said.
Pickard says he came to the Comox Valley from Victoria a year and a half ago looking for a new start, but so far hasn’t found one.
He says he had a wife, children and a house “like everyone else,” but a stroke and legal problems brought him to where he is now.
CHEK News has reached out to Emterra Environmental for comment.