Spencer Benbolt Junior, known as to his loved ones as Budda, was killed when an industrial bin he was sleeping in was emptied by a garbage truck was sleeping rough because he ‘hated his foster home’
A ‘cheeky’ teenage boy killed when an industrial bin he was sleeping in was emptied by a garbage truck was living rough because he ‘hated his foster home’.
Spencer Benbolt Junior, known as to his loved ones as Budda, and two other Indigenous children, aged 11 and 12, were inside the dumpster near McDonald’s in Port Lincoln on South Australia’s west coast when it was emptied at 5.20am on Tuesday.
Police say the 12-year-old managed to escape the bin and frantically started banging on the window to stop the driver, but his two friends had already fallen into the truck.
Spencer suffered extensive injuries and died at the scene, while the youngest was unharmed.
Spencer’s friend Dylan Fox said the teen was sleeping in the dumpster because he wanted to get away from his foster home.
‘They did not like it in the foster homes and stuff, from what I knew. He just hated it,’ he told 9News.
Spencer’s cousin Montanah Elvey described him as a ‘really good kid’.
‘He was brave, tough. He’s been through a lot of s**t and he is a very strong child,’ she said through tears on Tuesday.
Pictured: The scene where a boy died and another was seriously injured after they fell asleep in a bin, which was then collected by a garbage truck
Pictured: The scene where a boy died after he was found sleeping in a bin near a McDonald’s drive-thru with two others
Superintendent Paul Bahr said the boys, who are not believed to be related, had beds they could have slept in.
‘It’s fair to say that the boys had somewhere to stay,’ he said on Tuesday.
‘I don’t think it’d be fair to classify them as homeless.’
He said police had spoken with the ‘traumatised’ surviving pair but had not been able to establish why they were sleeping in the bin.
‘It’s tragic across a whole number of levels,’ he said.
‘And that’s just one of the levels of the tragedy of this as to why these three children thought they needed to be sleeping in the bin.
‘On what was a pretty cold and wet night, too. It wasn’t a good night to be sleeping outdoors.’
Supt Bahr said police had not previously been aware of reports of kids sleeping in Port Lincoln bins.
‘Port Lincoln has an issue with homelessness like every community, and from time to time we do get rough sleepers,’ he said.
‘I’m not aware of children sleeping rough.’
Police said the truck driver did not realise the children, who are from Port Lincoln, were in the bin at the time and that he was ‘extremely shaken by the incident’.
A report will be prepared for the coroner.
A spokeswoman for SafeWork SA told Daily Mail Australia that inspectors have attended the site and are making enquiries.
‘SafeWork SA offers condolences to his family, friends and colleagues at this distressing and sad time,’ she said.
The grizzly scene unfolded in Port Lincoln – a small coastal town west of Adelaide in South Australia
Port Lincoln Mayor Brad Flaherty described the accident as a tragedy.
‘It’s a terrible, terrible incident that will have an awful impact on the community as a whole and the families involved,’ he said in a statement.
‘Our heartfelt thoughts are with the families and community members affected.’
Staff and students at the local school the boy attended have been offered counselling in the wake of his death.
Rowena Fox, the education director for the Eyre Peninsula, said the event had ‘deeply affected’ the school and community.
‘The immediate priority is arranging counselling and psychological support,’ she said.
‘Local schools are actively monitoring students and will arrange direct wellbeing support for individuals and in groups where necessary.
‘This is very upsetting news and children will likely process it in different ways.’
A spokesperson for Veolia Waste Management, the truck driver’s company, offered condolences to the boy’s loved ones.
‘While we are unable to comment further on the circumstances at present, we are working closely with the emergency services and a full investigation into the incident is underway,’ it said.