A 13-year-old boy was killed after a bin he and two friends were sleeping in was collected by a lorry.
Spencer Benbolt Junior was asleep in the large container in Port Lincoln, South Australia, on Tuesday along with two other boys aged 11 and 12.
Local reports say the bin was later emptied during a scheduled collection and as that was happening, one boy managed to escape by jumping out but the other two children became trapped.
A 12-year-old boy who escaped began banging on the door to alert the driver, and emergency services were called just after 5.20am.
According to news.com.au Spencer suffered serious injuries and despite efforts to save him he died at the scene. The other boy was unharmed.
South Coast Local Service Area officer Paul Bahr told reporters on Tuesday that the boys were not homeless and had “places to stay … with beds they could sleep in”.
“We’re not aware of any reports of children sleeping in bins in Port Lincoln. 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 time we do get rough sleepers (but) I’m not aware of children sleeping rough.”
The Department of Child Protection said the boy was not in state care and an investigation into the tragedy has been launched.
Nine News reports that Spencer’s aunt read out a heartbreaking tribute on behalf of the family.
She said: “Spencer always had a close relationship with his parents, brothers and grandmothers, who he loved and adored.
“He loved hunting, fishing, camping, was a cheeky boy who had a big imagination.”
The truck driver, who was not aware the boys were inside the bin when he picked it up, was reportedly “extremely shaken” by the incident.
Port Lincoln Mayor Brad Flaherty said Spencer’s death was “very, very sad” and would have a “significant impact” on the community, which had been left “shocked” by the news.
“Port Lincoln has a very strong community and will stand behind the families involved,” he told NCA NewsWire.
“Our thoughts go out to the families, friends and colleagues involved in the situation.
“We’ve got to be resilient and make sure we’re there for the people involved.”