Two men who likely never met died the same bone-crushing way, according to recently released investigative reports: They fell asleep in dumpsters that city garbage trucks emptied and were killed in the maw of the trash compactor.
The bodies of William J. “Jay” Norris and Anthony D. Todd were found two months apart at the Leon County waste transfer station.
One was a longtime homeless resident of Tallahassee. The other was a more recent arrival.
As coincidental as those bizarre circumstances appear, the Leon County Sheriff’s Office said no foul play was involved. The two deaths were purely accidental and seemingly avoidable.
Their deaths raise questions about the safety of trash bins and whether enough precautions are in place to prevent people from getting trapped in trucks’ compactors.
“It’s a dilemma,” said Pastor Glenn Burns of Good Samaritan Network of Tallahassee. He tries to let folks know about a place to get a blanket, a hot meal and a safe place to sleep.
But some just won’t spend a night in a shelter. Instead, they seek the woods and other alternatives to a roof and four walls.
Burns participated in a recent National Homeless Persons’ Memorial Day for the 28 people in this area who died while homeless. Anthony Todd’s name was on that list.
“Our list was the longest it’s ever been this year,” Burns said.
They didn’t all die in dumpsters. Many died from illnesses related to chronic drug and alcohol abuse. Others had mental illnesses or were combat veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder.
“It’s a never-ending battle,” Burns said. “Sometimes it takes years for them to develop trust with you to take next step.”
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SOURCE: USA Today; Tallahassee Democrat, Jeffrey Schweers