By Kevin Kelley
Some residents at Westlake Village encountered an unusual scene outside their windows May 2.
A garbage truck owned by Republic Services ended up several feet deep in a pond at the senior living center following an accident around 8:40 a.m. The truck displayed the name of Allied Waste, a company acquired by Republic in 2008.
Police initially reported that the accident happened when the driver experienced a medical emergency. The official police report indicates that a nurse at Westlake Village requested an ambulance for the driver, who reported having chest pains. Sixty-year-old James McClosky was taken by the Westlake Fire Department to St. John Medical Center. He was still in the hospital Tuesday.
But a police accident report stated that while the driver was emptying the Westlake Village dumpster, he exited the truck to fasten a container to the compactor and didn’t set the parking brake on the truck. The truck then rolled backward about 30 yards into the pond without the driver, the report stated.
Dale McLaughlin was one of four employees of Rich’s Towing who pulled the truck out of the water.
“It’s not every day you go into the water to get something out,” McLaughlin said. Even so, he said the company gets about six jobs each year that involve removing something from a body of water.
The team from Rich’s Towing included a diver, who had to wade into five feet of water during the extraction, McLaughlin said. However, the driver did not need to employ oxygen, he added. The garbage truck was in up to eight feet of water at its deepest point, McLaughlin said.
McLaughlin said three trucks were involved in the operation, which took about 90 minutes. But workers from Rich’s Towing had to wait around for several more hours while an environmental firm put a retaining ring around the truck to prevent possible contamination of the pond. Apparently, no contamination was present.
In addition to employees of the Westlake Service Department, Westlake firefighters were on hand throughout the day.
“We were just there as they were towing it out to ensure if something happened, we’d be right there,” explained Craig Dayton, a fire department lieutenant.