A 13-year-old South Australian boy has died after being seriously injured when an industrial bin he was sleeping in was being emptied, in what police have described as a “tragic event” that will affect the local community of Port Lincoln.
Three boys, aged 11, 12 and 13, were asleep in the bin near a McDonald’s restaurant and a Repco store early on Tuesday when it was emptied, SA police say.
One of the boys jumped clear and another was not injured.
The 13-year-old sustained serious injuries and died at the scene.
“As the bin has been lifted, one of the boys has managed to scramble out. However, the other two appear to have been tipped over with the bin as it’s lifted up into the truck,” Superintendent Paul Bahr told reporters on Tuesday.
“One of the boys has survived and has been relatively unhurt. However, the other boy has suffered fatal injuries as result of that tip and has died at the scene.”
Supt Bahr said the two other boys were “traumatised” by the incident.
“We’ve spoken to the two boys and clearly they’re traumatised by what’s occurred and it will take time to receive a detailed story from them,” he said.
“For the first responders, this is a really terrible event. It is tragic for all of the Port Lincoln community. This is a very tight-knit, relatively small community. Everyone in this community will be impacted either directly or indirectly by this event.”
The truck driver was not aware the boys were in the bin and is extremely shaken by the incident, police said.
“By the time the truck driver was aware there were people in the bin, it was too late to stop the skip tipping,” Supt Bahr said.
Supt said it was unclear why the boys were sleeping in the bin.
“We’re not aware of any reports of any kids sleeping in bins – this is the first time we’ve become aware of it,” he said.
“Port Lincoln has an issue with homelessness, like every community, and from time to find we do get rough sleepers, but we are not aware of children sleeping rough.”
South Australian Labor MP Tom Koutsantonis described the incident as “heartbreaking”.
Safe Work SA said it offered condolences to the boy’s family, friends and colleagues “at this distressing and sad time”.
“SafeWork SA inspectors have attended the site and we are currently making enquiries into the incident,” it said in a statement.
Police are preparing a report for the coroner.
Additional reporting Rashida Yosufzai