Friends remember Victoria man crushed to death in the back of a truck


WATCH:  More information is coming forward on the identity of the man crushed to death Wednesday in downtown Victoria. People in the street community say he was known to all of them. Mary Griffin reports. 

More than 24 hours later, the news is still filtering through the street community.

While a homeless man slept inside a dumpster, a garbage truck picked up the bin, crushing him inside.

He died shortly after emergency personnel pulled him from the box of the vehicle.

Carla Rempel is still coming to terms with the death of the friend she knew for 15 years.

“He’s a really nice guy, everybody really loved him. It’s a tragedy. The street community is very, very upset. People at Our Place are very upset. The general public is very upset,” Rempel said.

Although police are not releasing the deceased man’s name, the tight-knit community at Our Place knew him by his street name, “Joe”.

Grant McKenzie, director of communications at Our Place, said people are struggling to know how to deal with their grief.

“We’ve had quite a few people in tears today because they found out the name of this person. And they’ve had great interactions in the past. And that shows the connection of everyone here, staff, and family,” McKenzie said.

It’s the first death attributed to a dumpster in Victoria.

15 years ago, one man narrowly escaped a similar fate when a garbage truck driver heard his screams for help.

He had crawled inside a dumpster to sleep because he couldn’t find a space in a shelter for the night.

Victoria firefighters had to cut him out of the garbage truck.

Fortunately, he was not seriously injured.

Victoria does not regulate its dumpsters, and bins.

But other west coast cities do.

Vancouver bylaw enforcement officers oversee solid waste containers that are required to be closed, and locked when not in use.

Two years ago, Seattle banned dumpsters in parts of the downtown core to prevent people from sleeping in them.

Victoria mayor Lisa Helps said while Wednesday’s death was a tragedy, the city is not about to regulate dumpsters.

“The city shouldn’t need to make bylaws about common sense. If businesses want to secure their bins, then they are going to secure their bins,” Helps said. “What are we going to have city bylaw officers wandering around checking every night to see if there is a lock? I mean it’s not the best use of taxpayer resources.”

Joe’s friends are not sure why he choose to sleep in a dumpster. Some think he may have had a home, but that he may have lost it some time ago. They do know they’ll miss him.

“He was a really good guy. And everybody knew him, and everybody loved him,” Rempel said.

Mary GriffinMary Griffin

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