A 44-year-old homeless man who fell asleep in a trash bin was dumped into the back of a garbage truck and survived being crushed repeatedly before a worker saw him.

Robert Baswell said he screamed each time a load of trash was crushed against his body and felt sure he would be killed after being dumped into the truck early Monday.

He said he was crushed against hamburger leftovers, dead rats and other refuse at least seven times. He tried to cushion one blow from the truck's compressor with a dead opossum, but it splattered against him.

"I screamed one last breath," Baswell told the Palm Beach Post from his hospital bed. The trash collector, tossing in one more box, happened to look down and saw him. Firefighters spent almost a half hour pulling pieces of trash out by hand to free him.

Baswell, who had bedded down in a brush-filled trash bin Sunday night to get out of the rain, suffered broken legs and ribs. But he considers himself lucky.

"I'm so happy to be here, as bad as I'm hurt," he said.

The trash collector told Baswell he was amazed to find him alive. West Palm Beach Fire Rescue spokesman Phil Kaplan said Baswell is fortunate to have survived.

"I want to find this gentleman and have him buy my lottery tickets because he is one lucky dude," Kaplan said.