Woman sleeping in clothing donation bin rescued
Published Sunday, September 9, 2018 2:29PM PDT Last Updated Sunday, September 9, 2018 3:33PM PDT
A woman who was sleeping inside a donation bin was rescued by first responders.
A witness became concerned when he saw a man help the woman inside the bin at an Abbotsford strip mall on South Fraser Way near Trethewey around 10:30 a.m. Sunday.
“I saw a man lift about a 20-year-old girl into the bin. He wandered around and he left. He left her in there,” witness Jared Harms said.
Harms called the non-emergency number, alerting first responders about the incident.
Emergency crews arrived, and used a mirror and a phone’s camera to see if anyone was inside.
Harms and six firefighters lowered the bin on its side, allowing the woman to climb out on her own.
“I was just sleeping,” said the woman when she was asked whether she was hurt.
She was assessed by paramedics and appears unharmed.
‘They can be really deadly’: Advocate calls for change
A homeless advocate is sounding the alarm after hearing another person needed to be rescued from a donation bin.
“The fact that another person is inside is mind-boggling. This is a massive problem: people’s lives are at risk, people have died in the past and they may die in the future,” said Jeremy Hunka with the Union Gospel Mission.
Hunka said there are at least three known deaths in the last four years involving people who were stuck inside the bins.
“People are desperate. They’re going in for clothing in some cases. They don’ know the risks. They’re already vulnerable and we need to protect people or else they will die.”
Some donations now have labels warning people not to enter the bins, but Hunka said that is just the bare minimum.
He believes the bins need to be redesigned or retrofitted to prevent people from climbing inside where they can easily become trapped.
Groups are studying into how the bins can be changed, he said.
“These things don’t look dangerous but once you’re inside, they can be really deadly.”