Sleeping in a dumpster is a dangerous thing to do, but sometimes it’s the only thing that can be done. Just ask Kyle Gardner and his girlfriend Kelsey McMurdo. The homeless 23-year-olds had a recent brush with death after lying down in a dumpster.
On April 12, Gardner and McMurdo needed some place to sleep, and having nowhere to go, decided to crash in a dumpster outside of a Voice of America food distribution center in Everett, Washington.
“It started getting cold and we just kind of found a place,” Gardner told KIRO 7.
Come the morning, the two had a horrifying wake up call.
“I heard him hook up to it,” said Gardner. “And I woke up and tried to jump up but [McMurdo] was on me.”
In a matter of seconds, they found themselves being dumped into a Waste Management recycling truck, where they were nearly crushed by the truck’s compactor.
“We were yelling at the top of our lungs, banging on the top of the truck, everything,” said Gardner. “We were trying to climb on top of that so we didn’t get squished when it closed.”
The compactor wasn’t the only threat the homeless couple might have had to face. Each year, tons upon tons of hazardous medical waste is improperly disposed of. Worldwide, some 16 billion injections are administered, but only some are properly disposed of. Consequently, diseases are spread. According to the World Health Organization, some 260,000 new HIV infections were directly related to poor management of medical waste worldwide in 2000.
“It wasn’t until we pulled up next to somebody at a stop light and I signaled him to tell the driver.”
Over a mile later, the driver eventually pulled over in to a Taco Bell. There, medics were able to get the couple out, and took McMurdo out on a stretcher.
Homelessness is a serious problem. According to the National Alliance to End Homelessness, more than 610,000 people were homeless on a single night in January 2013. Since 2006, about six million homes have been foreclosed, and about four million are in the process of being foreclosed.
Gardner and McMurdo also represent a more troubling aspect of America’s homelessness problem — homeless youths. According to DoSomething.org, one of the largest organizations for young people and social change, about 34% of the homeless population is young people under 24. Nearly half (46%) of homeless youth have been physically abused, and 17% have been forced into unwanted sexual activity. About four in five homeless youths aged 12 to 21 wind up using drugs or alcohol as a means to self-medicate to deal with the traumatic experiences and abuse they face.
McMurdo was taken to Providence Everett Medical Center, but on Monday night, Gardner had to find somewhere else to stay.