Message of greater support to youth following death of Port Lincoln boy

SCENE: Police at the site of the fatal accident during investigations Tuesday morning. Photo: Jarrad Delaney
SCENE: Police at the site of the fatal accident during investigations Tuesday morning. Photo: Jarrad Delaney

A message to look out for our local youth and be more supportive has been shared following the tragic death of a 13-year-old boy in Port Lincoln Tuesday morning.

At about 5.20am on May 11 three Port Lincoln boys aged 11, 12 and 13 were allegedly asleep in an industrial bin in a car park off Napoleon Street when a rubbish truck arrived to empty the bin on a scheduled pick up.

As the bin was lifted the 12-year-old boy managed to escape and attempted to alert the driver, however the other two were tipped into the truck.

The 11-year-old boy was relatively unhurt but unfortunately the 13-year-old boy suffered fatal injuries and died at the scene.

MORE NEWS:

Eyre and Western Local Service Area officer in charge, Superintendent Paul Bahr said the circumstances of how they ended up sleeping in an industrial bin would take time to understand and would be a major part of the coronial investigation that was underway.

He said this event had been very traumatic for the Port Lincoln community, including first responders on the scene.

"It's tragic for all of the Port Lincoln community, this is a very tight-knit, relatively small community and everyone in this community would be impacted either directly or indirectly by this event.

Superintendent Bahr said the driver did not know anyone was in the bin until it was too late and was shaken from the incident.

He said the boys were known to each other.

Many in the community have expressed feelings of shock and sorrow on social media following news of the incident.

West Coast Youth and Community Support chief executive officer Jo Clark said the boy was known to staff who were shaken following the news of his death.

She said the boy was not homeless, he had a big loving family who were grieving a heavy loss, and the three boys were described as being full of life, cheeky and lots of fun to be around.

"This young person wasn't homeless, he was a young person, who like many young people struggled to navigate young adulthood and find their place, and for a variety of reasons was sleeping out," she said.

"All three young boys are frequent visitors at West Coast Youth and Community Support, they spent many times during the day in here and our staff are understandably shaken and upset, and really saddened."

West Coast Youth and Community Support was one of several agencies across the community reaching out to homeless people of all ages to provide services.

Superindendent Bahr said Port Lincoln had a homelessness issue like every community and from time to time there were rough sleepers.

"We do have some very good support services here if we do get reports of it, but I'm not aware in general of children sleeping rough," he said.

"It's tragic across a whole number of levels, and that's one of the levels of the tragedy of this as to why these three children felt they needed to be sleeping in a bin.

"We have some very good networks here in Port Lincoln, and I know from my own experience if we do encounter people in distress or trouble these networks are able to act reasonably quickly."

Ms Clarke said there were multiple people and agencies doing a lot of things to support youth in the community and while programs were in place the community it was up to all of us to ask is there more that could be done to support youth moving forward.

"I think that mostly our young people just need love, they need people to say hello to them when they walk past, they need a smile and we need to appreciate all young people and understand sometimes their behaviours are only what's at the tip of the iceberg and there's a lot going on underneath that," she said.

In a public statement posted onto the Port Lincoln City Council Facebook page, Port Lincoln mayor Brad Flaherty said the council was deeply saddened by this incident.

"This is devastating news for our community and those families and friends who are directly impacted by the incident," he said.

"Our heartfelt thoughts are with the families and community members affected."

SAPOL is preparing a report for the coroner and Safe Work SA has been advised of the incident.

Superindentent Bahr said police was not aware of any first hand witnesses but anyone who did witness to ring 131 444.

Want to have the biggest headlines sent your way each week? Sign up today for the weekly Port Lincoln Times newsletter here.