Investigators say 70-year-old maintenance man Xuan Van Ho was hard at work cleaning the back of a St. Pete garbage truck when out of nowhere the back door of the truck came crashing down on his chest.
"The maintenance man apparently had been cleaning out the back of one of the dump trucks there," said St. Pete Police spokesman Mike Puetz. "During the course of that cleaning, somebody was in the cab, the driver was in the cab, he activated a switch that closed the door believing that the maintenance worker had evacuated the area."
For whatever reason, the unidentified driver did not see Xuan in the back of the truck.
Xuan, who neighbors say is originally from Vietnam, was taken to Bayfront Medical Center with what has been described as life-threatening injuries.
The residential side loader truck that the city of St. Pete uses to collect garbage does come equipped with two cameras for drivers to see what they're picking up.
Neither came in handy Monday.
"It does have a camera on top which the driver can see the load being picked up and dumped into the back of the truck, but there's no camera directly at the rear where this man was at," said Puetz.
Police have not charged the driver with any crime and say they are certain this incident was not the result of any foul play.
"Everything at this point sounds like it's just strictly an accident," Puetz said. "We've interviewed the driver of the truck and he's obviously upset about what transpired."
Officials with the St. Petersburg Sanitation Department say the driver will not face any disciplinary action.
They say trucks are normally cleaned from the outside with a hose about once a week.
At this point, it's not clear why Xuan was doing his job from the inside of the truck.
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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