[Hpn] A life on the streets ends in a tragic death

Morgan W. Brown norsehorse@hotmail.com
Thu, 04 Oct 2001 22:52:28 -0400


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-------Forwarded article-------

Thursday, October 4, 2001
Buffalo News <http://www.buffalonews.com>
[Buffalo, New York]
Western New York News section
A life on the streets ends in a tragic death
<http://www.buffalonews.com/editorial/20011004/1023751.asp>


A search for shelter may have led to Eric Dickinson's death.


By JAY REY
News Staff Reporter
10/4/01


Eric Dickinson's life ended unceremoniously Tuesday on a trash heap in the 
back of a recycling truck.

There was no foul play involved, police said. But like other drifters living 
the hard life on and off the streets, Dickinson, 33, found shelter where he 
could. Tuesday, it happened to be a dumpster somewhere between Niagara Falls 
and Buffalo.

"We believe he was sleeping in a dumpster," said Capt. Peter F. Klipfel, 
chief of detectives for the Town of Tonawanda Police Department. "When the 
dumpster was emptied into the recycling truck, he fell into the truck and 
possibly broke his neck. At some point he was compacted."

Dickinson's body was found Tuesday morning after the truck was emptied at 
the Browning-Ferris Industries recycling facility on Kenmore Avenue. An 
autopsy performed Wednesday showed Dickinson suffered a broken neck and 
crushed chest.

The dumpster where Dickinson was sleeping could have been picked up anywhere 
between Niagara Falls and Buffalo, police said. So before closing the case, 
investigators are asking the public's help in retracing Dickinson's steps 
during the past few days.

"He was on and off the streets," Klipfel said. "He was spending time at the 
City Mission."

Dickinson's story isn't unusual, though few end so tragically, said Gavin 
Kasper, coordinator of the homeless outreach program at Crisis Services.

There are about 400 to 475 area homeless people - many of them families - 
living in more than a dozen local shelters, and probably 100 to 150 more are 
living on the streets for various reasons, Kasper said.

"Homeless people are going into dumpsters all the time, not just to sleep 
but to look for food," Kasper said. "You find them under bridges, sometimes 
in fields; lots are in vacant areas in the city."

Most are men. Many, Kasper said, are suffering from substance abuse problems 
or mental illness.

Dickinson had his problems, too.

"He was a drinker, we know that for a fact," Klipfel said. "It's our 
understanding he was on a lot of medication - all legal - for his condition, 
depression and other things."

John Sullivan, captain of security at City Mission, remembers Dickinson.

Dickinson was in and out of the City Mission a few times over the past 
couple of years, when he couldn't crash at a friend's home, Sullivan said.

"He worked in the kitchen. He never bothered nobody. He was a pretty good 
guy, to tell you the truth," Sullivan said. "He felt there was nothing wrong 
with having a beer or two, so he did."



e-mail: jrey@buffnews.com

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Morgan <norsehorse@hotmail.com>
Morgan W. Brown
Montpelier Vermont USA



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