TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTHI) - One person is dead and another seriously injured after an early morning incident in downtown Terre Haute.
Police and emergency crews were called to the rear of the Hilton Garden Hotel just after 6:00 Thursday morning in downtown Terre Haute on reports of a man and woman trapped inside a garbage truck.
The truck's driver had stepped out of the vehicle to open a gate when he reported hearing banging noises and yells from inside the truck, police said.
Terre Haute Fire Chief Jeff Fisher told News 10 the man, now identified as Franshon Barr, 46, and woman were sleeping in a dumpster behind a discount store on Locust Street, when the truck emptied the dumpster into the back of the truck.
Chief Fisher says the driver continued on his route before stopping behind the Hilton Garden Inn. Investigators believe the truck made two or three stops before reaching the Hilton Garden Inn.
Chief Fisher says Barr was found dead inside the truck and the female was flown to an Indianapolis hospital with severe injuries.
The woman's name has not yet been released.
Terre Haute Police Chief John Plasse said Thursday morning that, while similar deaths are rare in the city, it is not unusual to find people sleeping and seeking shelter in dumpsters.
"In talking with the driver, he said that it's not uncommon when they go to pick up a dumpster … they've had those (dumpster) doors flip open before and whoever's inside come out," Plasse said.
Those who work with homeless people say families and individuals living on the streets often seek shelters like dumpsters for protection.
Part of it is to protect the few possessions they do have left," said Muriel Ryan of the organization Families By Choice. "Part of it is to protect their relationships."
Rev. Timothy Fagg of the Lighthouse Mission said he often encounters people who struggle to find places to stay.
"I've had many a call where people are staying in abandoned buildings, automobiles, and so-forth," Fagg said. "Once I had a fellow that was staying in an abandoned building that was scheduled for demolition. I went and got him."
Fagg said some who live on the street spurn homeless shelters either out of shame or to avoid strict rules in shelters.
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