Homeless man dies in shelter accident
Killed when truck he was beneath began to move
A homeless man lying under a food service truck at a shelter in the South End yesterday was killed when the driver began to move the vehicle, police said.
The man was lying under the truck in the parking lot at the Pine Street Inn on Harrison Avenue just before noon when the driver drove over him, said Alicia Ianiere, the shelter's vice president for development and external affairs.
"Everyone throughout the organization is deeply, deeply saddened by this," Ianiere said. "Our mission is to care for homeless men and women, so it's really a tremendous loss when a death occurs. We have to grapple with that in the way that anyone else grapples with the loss of someone they care for and care about. Our guests have to grapple with that, too."
Because the man had stayed at the shelter only about a half dozen times over the past few years, the staff did not know him well, Ianiere said.
He had not stayed at the shelter the night before.
The man, who was not identified by the shelter or police, was declared dead at Boston Medical Center, according to Boston police.
Men at the shelter who had gathered outside the building yesterday afternoon said they did not know the man who died, but suggested he might have been trying to avoid the rain that had been falling for most of the morning.
The shelter staff will provide counseling and support to other guests, Ianiere said.
"Our thoughts and prayers are with the individual, as well as the driver," she said. "It's a terrible, terrible tragedy for everybody involved."
The driver, an employee of the shelter, is "dependable and reliable, and he is devastated," Ianiere said.
Police and the shelter's staff are investigating to determine why the man was under the truck, Ianiere said.
The employee's driving record will be reviewed as a part of the shelter's internal investigation, she said. "I don't think we have much of an idea of what happened," Ianiere said.
The Pine Street Inn is often closed from midmorning until about 4 p.m. during calm weather, but is kept open throughout the day during inclement weather.
The shelter had been closed for part of yesterday morning but opened again at about 11:30 a.m., after a steady rain had begun to fall, she said.
The shelter serves about 1,200 homeless and low-income people a day, providing housing, job training, and other social services, Ianiere said.
Ryan Haggerty can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.