An unoccupied CleanScapes truck rolled downhill on West Barrett Street in Queen Anne on April 22, damaging about three cars before stopping in Jeffrey Pomerantz’s backyard.
Pomerantz, who rents his home on the corner of Eighth Avenue West and West Barrett Street, was home at the time of the incident. Trash day is always a little loud, Pomerantz said, but he heard an unusually loud noise, followed by car alarms. By the time he got to the window, the incident was over and the truck had come to a stop in his backyard.
The driver was not in the truck at the time; he had gotten out to pick up a bin at the top of the hill, Pomerantz said. The truck rolled backward, hitting at least one car along the way and then pushing an SUV all the way into Pomerantz’s backyard. It went through his fence and took out a row of bushes and landscaping before an apple tree stopped it.
It was a good thing the sizeable tree was there, Pomerantz said; otherwise, the truck might have continued downhill or into one of the neighboring houses.
“It plowed up the bushes and trees and just flattened it all,” he said. “It was just one of these things that it sort of takes you a moment to process when you’re looking at it.”
CleanScapes is a solid-waste and recycling collection service that provides its service through municipal contracts, said CleanScapes Government and Community Affairs manager Kevin Kelly. Information is still being gathered about the incident, and CleanScapes won’t comment on it until the agency can ensure it’s obtained all of the information.
“In the meantime, we are working with affected residents to ensure we respond appropriately to the situation,” Kelly said in an email.
The driver told neighbors he either forgot to put the brake on or the brake was faulty, Pomerantz said. The driver was on the ball very quickly, contacting his company and the police. He was very professional, Pomerantz said.
Since Pomerantz rents, his landlord has been dealing with CleanScapes and the city for the repairs.
Lisa Barry, Pomerantz’s next-door neighbor, had a little damage from the fence and trees being knocked over when the truck stopped next door. Insurance will likely take care of the damage, but Barry hasn’t been contacted by the city or CleanScapes yet.
The neighborhood’s topography is so hilly that it doesn’t seem safe to have the driver leaving the vehicle unattended, Barry said.
“Thank goodness, no one got hurt. It could have been so much worse,” she said, saying someone could have been killed if they were in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Barry said it seemed unusual for the truck to only have one employee running it. She hopes change will come from this and the trucks have more than one driver and aren’t left unattended.
“I’d like to never see one driver go out alone [again],” she said. “I don’t think that’s safe.”
Having two people working in the trucks could go a long way to solving the problem, Pomerantz said. He wasn’t sure whether CleanScapes trucks always operate with one driver. He also suggested the drivers look into using hill holders.
Seattle Police did respond to the scene and filed a motor-collision report. Those reports usually take a week or two to process and was not available as of press time.
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