One of two City of Marietta sanitation workers remained hospitalized Friday afternoon, several hours after a discarded oxygen bottle exploded in the back of a garbage truck.
William Smith was hit by debris from the explosion and sustained severe injures to both eyes, Officer David Baldwin with Marietta police said. Smith was transported to WellStar Kennestone Hospital, where he remained Friday afternoon.
The extent of Smith’s injuries were not known, but he was initially blinded by the force of the explosion, investigators said. Smith’s co-worker, Marvin Markham, sustained facial lacerations in the blast and was treated and released at the scene, Baldwin said.
“It sounds like a horrible accident, but we won’t know until the investigation concludes,” Baldwin said. “They found pieces of the canister 50 yards away.”
Investigators believe the oxygen canisters were thrown away by a family on Brentwood Drive after a relative’s death.
Several oxygen bottles were thrown in the trash and placed at the curb, and the sanitation workers picked up the trash Friday morning. When the workers compacted the trash in the back of the garbage truck, at least one of the oxygen bottles exploded.
The canisters, which are highly pressurized, likely exploded due to the force of the trash compactor, investigators said.
“We ask homeowners to call us when they have things such as this and we’ll tell them how to dispose of things like this properly,” David Tiggs, a supervisor with the city’s sanitation company, told the AJC. “Items such as this, we don’t take.”
— Staff photographer John Spink contributed to this article.
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