Seven-year-old Elias Quezada’s playful nature nearly cost him his life after he decided to climb into a wheelie bin while playing hide and seek.
Unfortunately for Elias, it was bin day at his grandmother’s home in Hillsborough County, Florida.
The little lad was scooped up and deposited in the back of a garbage truck – “I got picked up and thrown to where I was going to be a mashed potato,” he said.
Fortunately for him, dustman Waldo Fidele was looking at the image from his truck’s rear view camera and spotted that something wasn’t right. He immediately turned off the truck’s blade and called the emergency services.
If he hadn’t been so alert, the situation could have been deadly: “The truck instantly treats trash like a garbage disposal does,” Waldo said. “Then after it is in the truck, it heads straight to [an incinerator]. Nobody would have ever known what happened to him.”
Waldo went to the back of the truck and retrieved Elias, who escaped his ordeal with just a scratch on his wrist.
“I come outside, I see him, he seemed happy,” Waldo told local news station WFLA. “I said OK, you’re OK now.”
Elias’s grandmother Carmen Salazar, said the lad had only been out for a few minutes when she suddenly heard Waldo shouting outside.
“In a minute he went out and the next thing I hear is the sound of the truck and a guy screaming,”
“I’m very thankful that he was looking at that camera at that time and he acted so fast,” she added, “because otherwise, he wouldn’t be here.”
Shawn Plunkett, the operations manager for Waste Connections of Florida Operations in Tampa, said Waldo was “truly a hero,” adding “If he hadn’t been paying close attention to the job, we would all be searching for a missing seven year old today.”
Kurt Salac, Waldo’s boss at Waste Connections, said the garbage truck driver’s prompt action was nothing short of a miracle..
“Waste management workers are often the unsung heroes of a community,” he said. “But we believe this action deserves some praise from everyone.”