South Carolina

Worker pinned under garbage truck dies in what SC coroner calls ‘freak accident’

A South Carolina sanitation worker was killed when he was pinned under a garbage truck, which is shown in this file photo.
A South Carolina sanitation worker was killed when he was pinned under a garbage truck, which is shown in this file photo. palcala@herald-leader.com

A South Carolina sanitation worker was killed Thursday in what the Anderson County coroner called “a freak accident.”

After getting pinned under a garbage truck, Richard Ernest Smith died, Coroner Greg Shore said, WSPA reported.

The 49-year-old Honea Path man was gathering trash cans just after 6 a.m. when he fell and was hit by the truck, according to WHNS.

The coroner said the truck driver lost sight of Smith, who was walking along the driver’s side “when he apparently fell or tripped” and was run over by the truck as it was headed in reverse, WYFF reported.

Smith was trapped under the weight of the truck and had to be pulled out by members of the Honea Path Fire Department, who responded to the scene, along with EMS, per WSPA.

Shore said Smith was taken to an area hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 7 a.m., according to WYFF.

Garbage and recycling trucks usually weigh around 33,000 pounds when empty, according to Waste 360.

“It looks like a freak accident,” said Shore, who said an investigation is in the early stages, per WHNS.

In addition to the Coroner’s Office, Smith’s death is being investigated by the South Carolina Highway Patrol and OSHA, WYFF reported.

“It (is) with much sadness and sorrow that I announce that the Town of Honea Path has lost an employee that was accidentally killed in a town garbage truck accident while working today,” Mayor Earl Lollis Meyers said in a statement shared by WSPA.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration protects your right to a safe and healthy workplace. Learn how you can file a complaint if you believe your workplace is dangerous.

Noah Feit is a Real Time reporter with The State and McClatchy Carolinas Regional Team. The award-winning journalist has worked for multiple newspapers since starting his career in 1999.
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