‘Help, I’m in the trash truck!’ Hapless ‘thief’ almost killed when his hideaway starts to crush him

September 27th, 2010 by Staff

Source: dailymail.co.uk — When police were called out to a robbery at their local Wal-Mart , the suspected thief appeared to vanish into thin air.

For about 40 minutes on Wednesday morning, officers in Alliance, Ohio searched the area for a suspect who was accused of trying to sneak about $1,000 worth of merchandise out of the superstore’s side door.

Then the police got a call from an man claiming to be his friend.

Alliance Police Lt. William Morris told Fox 8 News that the caller told police that his friend, James Brienzo, 37, had used his mobile phone to get help.

He was ‘hiding in a dumpster behind a Wal-Mart in Alliance and he was hiding from police and it was just picked up and dumped in a trash truck and they were mobile and he needed help.’

Emergency operators also took a 911 call from a frantic Brienzo, begging them to find the truck. ‘I’m in the back of a trash truck that keeps compacting me!’ Brienzo said as dispatchers urged him to calm down.

Police say Brienzo was literally being compacted along with between six and eight tons of rubbish mostly discarded cardboard.

As Stark County Emergency Management officials used the signal from Brienzo’s mobile phone to locate where he was, police were frantically searching Alliance for the truck.

During a 16-minute conversation, Brienzo told dispatchers he thought he was dying. ‘I’m dying man,’ he said, complaining his bones were being crushed, saying he knew he wouldn’t walk again and screaming at the top of his lungs each time the truck driver picked up another load and compacted what was in the truck.

He is heard telling dispatchers at one point that he didn’t care what happened to him, he just wanted to live.

Officer Anthony Palozzi was the first to locate the truck near a recycling plant in Alliance, and said the driver was startled when he told him there could be a man in the back.

Palozzi said he jumped inside the truck and tried digging through the cardboard to find Brienzo.

‘When we first got in the truck we had no idea where he was. All we could hear was his voice. Eventually he could stick his hand out through some cardboard and that’s where we started digging to get him free’ Palozzi told Fox 8 News.

Lt. Morris arrived shortly thereafter.

“We tried freeing him from where he was and realized we couldn’t, we just couldn’t do it, and he was in a lot of pain and asked that we just dumped the truck,” Morris said.

Because the truck was only about 300 yards away from the Alliance recycling plant officers escorted it there, even though it was not the driver’s planned destination.

The back of the truck was opened and its contents emptied on the lot. Brienzo was found in a massive pile of rubbish toward the front of the truck. Officers still had to dig through the mountain of cardboard to get him out as workers at the plant nervously watched.

‘He was in pretty bad shape when the got him out, he didn’t look too good,’ Noel Hatfield told reporters.

‘To be honest with you, I figured he was almost dead because that packs so tight in there,’ said Mike Hatfield.

Lt. Morris said they still had trouble digging Brienzo’s legs out of the pile as he appeared to be slipping in and out of consciousness.

Brienzo was taken to Mercy Medical Center in Canton, then later flown to MetroHealth Medical Center in Cleveland. Alliance police showed Fox 8 his record which filled out 26 pages, including a previous arrest at the same Wal Mart.

Lt. Morris said the truck was just leaving Alliance when they stopped it, heading toward a recycling center in Warren, and he does not believe Brienzo would have survived.

‘There’s no way he would have survived that trip,’ Lt. Morris said. ‘He was in a bad situation as it was… I think we found him just in time.’


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