OTTAWA, Kan. — The Ottawa Police Department investigated Monday after reports that a trash service worker was hurt from an item exploding in his truck.
Officials were initially investigating the incident as a possible pipe bomb, but they later determined the actual cause was much more innocuous but still concerning.
Investigators said this happened just before 6 a.m. when the truck compacted some trash, and there was an explosion, hitting a worker
One person in the trash truck was hit by an object, and his partner drove him to Advent Health Ottawa with minor injuries.
The Olathe Fire Department Bomb Squad responded to Ottawa to assist with the investigation, in addition to Ottawa police and fire departments. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives also worked in the area of Advent Health to investigate the incident.
“My daughter and I were talking on the phone, and I said, ‘Gosh there’s a lot of police cars out here at the hospital.’ And she said, ‘A trash truck or something blew up, Mom!'” Sherrie Bates said.
Bates lives on the street of the suspected explosion, which happened near West 17th Street and South Osage Drive. She didn’t hear it happen but had some thoughts as the former owner of a trash service.
“They have the kicker system on the back of the truck where there’s a slot on the back of the container, and it just kicks it and throws it back of the truck. Well, they don’t actually see all the time what has been dumped in the back of the truck,” Bates said.
Once at the hospital, officers saw something cylindrical and metal in the back of the trash truck — escalating the situation for much of the morning.
“We determined that it wasn’t a pipe bomb. It was a large pneumatic tool that had been sheared in between the mechanism in the truck, and it ejected out and hit the worker,” Capt. J.W. Hawkins with the Ottawa Police Department said.
Hawkins said it appeared that it was maybe a grinder that would hook to an air hose or something similar.
Bates said it’s unfortunately a real risk of the job: customer carelessness.
“No they just put it in the trash bag, and that would be it. Some people’s that way,” Bates said.
Police said there is no criminal investigation related to this situation, adding the worker is expected to make a full recovery.