Man seconds from truck-crush death

A man came within seconds of being crushed to death in a compactor truck after falling asleep in a cardboard recycling cage outside a central Hamilton bar.

Hamilton Fire Service senior station officer Steve McSweeney said a recycling truck driver had picked up and emptied the cage into his truck outside Good George Brewery on Somerset St this morning.

The driver was about to compact the load when he heard banging coming from inside his truck.

It is understood the man, who works multiple jobs, decided to have a nap in the recycling cage, covering himself up with cardboard to keep warm.

A source said he did not wake up until he was almost at arm's length of the blade inside the truck.

Mr McSweeney said they were called to help rescue the 25-year-old man about 5am today.

"We got there and just a bit down the alleyway we saw a bloke that was in the recycling truck."

He said the truck driver was up the top of the truck, looking down at the trapped man. "He was just standing in the bottom of the truck and couldn't get out."

Mr McSweeney said the truck driver told them he had picked up the cage and emptied it into his recycling truck, and placed the cage back down before slowly driving off to get the next cage.

"The driver was going down the alleyway to pick up another one and he heard this banging from the inside of his bin and was about to press the button to squash the load and thought 'that's odd'.

"He opened up the lid, on the top of his truck, and there was a guy standing there."

Mr McSweeney said the man was "lucky not to have been squashed".

He couldn't confirm if the man was drunk or not, but he was very sheepish when asked how he came to be inside the recycling bin. "He's hurt his pride more than anything."

When asked if the man said anything, Mr McSweeney said he was a bit coy. "He was very quiet, very sheepish."

The man climbed out of bin using the Fire Service extension ladder. "It wouldn't have been nice that one - he can thank his lucky stars."

Waikato police spokesman Andrew McAlley said local WorkSafe staff had been told about the incident. He said officers attended the "near miss" at a Hamilton bar but could not comment any further. "It was a near miss and WorkSafe local staff have been briefed," he told NZME News Service.

The rubbish truck was operated by EnviroWaste and the recycling cage is owned by Fullcircle Recycling. A spokeswoman for the company, Stephanie Mackie, said she had been informed about the incident but could not comment because the full details were not clear.

An EnviroWaste employee said chief executive officer Gary Saunders was not able to comment.

Good George director Daryl Hadley said the brewery was closed at night and was unaware of the cage the man slept in was on his premises or not.

"It [sleep] was free of charge if it was," he joked.

WorkSafe said it was investigating to find out more.

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