TAMPA – A man and a woman received an abrupt awakening last week after they'd fallen asleep in a gas station dumpster, then dumped into the back of a garbage truck.
According to Hillsborough County deputies, the couple was intoxicated after leaving the Seminole Hard Rock Casino overnight, and decided to get some sleep in a dumpster at a nearby Wawa gas station.
"I looked inside [the dumpster]. I saw cardboard," said the truck's driver, Radames Velazquez.
Velazquez, who works for Progressive Waste Solutions, said the truck has a video camera pointed at the cargo area. Right before he compressed the trash, he said, he noticed on the video that there was a man in his truck.
"I actually saw him in a camera that we have in the truck. As I was pushing the blade back, I saw the man jumping up and down," Velazquez told a group of reporters later that afternoon. "It surprised me, yeah. I couldn't believe it happened until it happened."
Deputies later identified the pair as Donald Jordan, 37, and Lisa Sirbella, 49. Velazquez called 911 when he realized they were in his truck.
"I got two people, I don't know how they got in the back of the truck but they're stuck in the truck. I almost killed both of them," Velazquez can be heard telling a 911 dispatcher. "I think there's a female in there with a guy; she's screaming her head off ... he's saying she's hurt. I hear her hollering."
Paramedics had to come rescue Jordan and Sirbella; detectives said both were taken to the hospital complaining of back pain.
Cristal Bermudez Nunez, a spokesperson for the sheriff's office, said the couple is lucky they weren't hurt worse than they were.
"They very well could have died not only if the compactor had been turned on, but just from their injuries, the way they landed," Bermudez Nunez said.
"The good part was I wasn't loaded. I wasn't fully loaded. If it was fully loaded, I probably would have crushed them today," added Velazquez, who has been a garbage truck driver for nine years. "I'm happy I kept people safe. Happy I could do it. I was just doing my job."
Detectives are trying to determine if Jordan and Sirbella are currently homeless despite having a Kissimmee address. Neither is being charged with a crime.
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