A body discovered earlier this week in a garbage truck at the Billings landfill has been identified as 50 year old James Brown. Officials believe the body was in a dumpster that was picked up near S. 27th Street and Minnesota Ave. From the Billings Police Department press release:

On 02/18/2020, shortly after 9:00 AM, members of the city’s Solid Waste Division discovered a body amongst the garbage in the back of a city garbage truck. The coroner has identified the deceased as 50 year old Billings man, James Brown. Additionally, the medical examiner reports the manner of death was accidental by asphyxia and crush injury. At this time, the BPD has no information to indicate criminal involvement or foul play. Investigators believe Mr. Brown was inside a dumpster in the area of South 27th and Minnesota during the time of garbage collection. The investigation remains open/active and classified as a death investigation. Detectives will continue to investigate the circumstances surrounding Mr. Brown’s death the same as any other unattended death case.

 

Keyboard warriors on Facebook have been making various comments eluding that it was somehow the garbage truck drivers responsibility to have noticed a body in the dumpster. That's ridiculous and totally unfair to place blame on the employee, in my opinion. Even with the on-board camera systems they have, I imagine it would be nearly impossible for them to visually scan hundreds of dumpsters and trash cans they pick up everyday.

More concerning to me, is why was this man sleeping in a dumpster in the first place? Were there no other warm places for him to go? Homelessness and transients are a difficult issue in Billings and while there are no easy, affordable solutions that will please everyone, there has to be some way our community can help prevent these tragedies from occurring. No one deserves to die in a garbage truck.