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Man survives ride in back of garbage truck

"He was lucky the truck was only half full," Yolo County Sheriff’s Lt. Martin Torres said. "Had it been full, he would have certainly been crushed and suffocated to death."

By Ben Hooper

SACRAMENTO, Jan. 20 (UPI) -- Authorities in California said a man who wound up in the back of a garbage truck survived by building "a coffin around himself" from trash.

Yolo County Sheriff's Lt. Martin Torres said the man, whose name was not released, was searching through a Sacramento-area garbage bin for his wallet Dec. 13 when the bin was dumped into the garbage truck.

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"The man said he was stuck in the truck for about an hour, but estimates show it was more like three or three and a half hours," Torres told the Woodland Daily Democrat. "The truck made several other pick-ups before arriving at the landfill, where the driver saw the man crawl out of his trash pile."

Torres told the Sacramento Bee the man used objects around him in the back of the truck to "build a coffin around himself" and keep from being crushed by the compactor.

"He was lucky the truck was only half full," Torres said. "Had it been full, he would have certainly been crushed and suffocated to death."

Torres said a bulldozer at the Yolo County Landfill nearly ran over the man after the truck dumped its load, but the truck driver spotted the man and alerted the bulldozer driver in time.

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"The driver was pretty much a hero for that," Torres said. 

Authorities said the man appeared to be uninjured, but complained of neck and back pain. He was taken to a hospital for an examination.

"While our driver had no idea of anyone in his load, we're very glad and proud of our driver for spotting the man while dumping out his truck at the landfill," said Nick Sikich, chief operating officer of Sacramento-based Atlas Disposal. "If he hadn't, the landfill equipment could have come along and buried him. We hope the man is OK and had a speedy recovery from any injuries."

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