Man’s body found in Dumpster
Smoke killed transient, 50, coroner says
A man who was found dead by firefighters after they extinguished a fire in a burning Dumpster early Thursday may have been turned away from a homeless shelter hours earlier, according to several homeless people at Whitman Park.
They said the man went by the name Jacob and was disabled, homeless and about 50 years old. Jacob had been drinking alcohol when he was denied shelter at the Rescue Mission, 550 South Ave., said homeless man Art Boyer.
According to the Mesa County Coroner’s Office, the man in the burning Dumpster died of smoke inhalation. The man’s death was ruled an accident, and his name was not released Thursday.
Firefighters from the Grand Junction Fire Department were returning from another call when they noticed a
Dumpster on fire behind a business at 529 Pitkin Ave. and extinguished it. After the smoke cleared, firefighters looked inside and discovered a body.
Boyer said the Dumpster was about waist-high, and he surmised Jacob, who was a smoker, probably got into it to sleep as nighttime temperatures dipped below freezing. The garbage container was in an alley less than a block from the shelter and near Whitman Park, a common gathering area for Grand Junction homeless people.
Boyer said Jacob had been at the park for the past three days.
He said Jacob’s left side was paralyzed after he was beaten and stabbed by five men during an incident more than a year ago in Grand Junction’s Emerson Park.
“Jacob was a very loving, peaceful man,” Boyer said. “He would share anything with you.”
An employee at the Rescue Mission said Thursday afternoon that a man who appeared to be drunk was turned away three times from the shelter on Wednesday night, the last time around 10 p.m. The shelter doesn’t allow intoxicated people to stay there.
Reporter Le Roy Standish contributed to this report.