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Man crushed to death by trash bin in Tampa

Officials investigate an area where a man known to search trash bins died accidentally Friday, deputies said. The garbage truck driver had seen the man searching a trash bin at an apartment complex at N 13722 23rd St., Tampa, and asked him to move away.

EDWARD LINSMIER | Times

Officials investigate an area where a man known to search trash bins died accidentally Friday, deputies said. The garbage truck driver had seen the man searching a trash bin at an apartment complex at N 13722 23rd St., Tampa, and asked him to move away.

TAMPA — A man died early Friday when a garbage truck driver accidentally set a trash bin on him, Hillsborough sheriff's deputies said.

John Gatling, a Waste Services Inc. driver, saw James Hunker searching through a bin at 13722 23rd St., deputies said.

The driver told Hunker, 55, to move away and saw him step back about 40 feet, according to a report.

Gatling, 60, then picked the bin up with his truck. When he set it down, he noticed it was uneven, the report states.

He picked it up and set it down again, but it was still uneven.

So Gatling got out of his truck to see what was under the bin. That's when he saw Hunker.

Gatling immediately lifted the bin and called 911. Hunker died from being crushed, the report states.

As investigators examined the scene, Hunker's body lay beneath a sheet at the end of an apartment complex parking lot. He was next to the bin, which was connected to a garbage truck. A toppled shopping cart and some garbage were strewn nearby.

Witnesses told deputies the victim was often seen searching through trash bins.

Hunker, who had been diagnosed with schizophrenia, lived at Shady Oaks Living Center, 2208 138th Ave., officials said.

Officials at the center declined to talk to a reporter.

Ileana Morales can be reached at imorales@sptimes.com or (813) 226-3386.

Man crushed to death by trash bin in Tampa 10/15/10 [Last modified: Friday, October 15, 2010 9:24pm]
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