Final act of loyalty before bin death
The 13-year-old boy who was tragically killed in a garbage truck incident will be remembered by his peers as a "hero", as it is revealed a final loyal act to his friends may have been the reason he was inside the industrial bin.
Spencer Benbolt Junior, 13, was asleep in an industrial bin in Port Lincoln, South Australia, early on Tuesday with two other boys - aged 11 and 12 - when it started being emptied during a scheduled collection.
As the bin was lifted, one boy managed to escape injury by jumping out, but the other two children became trapped.
The 12-year-old boy who escaped immediately began banging on the door to alert the driver, with emergency services called to the Repco car park just after 5.20am.
Spencer suffered critical injuries and, despite the efforts of paramedics to save him, died at the scene.
The other boy was unharmed despite also being thrown into the truck.
The tragic incident immediately sparked questions about why the boys were in the bin, with locals suggesting the group has crawled inside to seek shelter from the rain and cold.
Friends of Spencer, known as Budda to his loved ones, told theDaily Mailhe had a warm bed and family he could have gone home to but chose to stay with his friends as they went out on an "adventure".
A woman, whose children went to school with the 13-year-old, said he always looked out for his friends, with his peers "remembering him as a hero".
"It's a tragic situation. One of his friends was a pretty regular runaway and it seems like he might've just stuck by his mates on their adventure rather than heading home," she told the publication.
Locals previously told the Daily Mail that the trio had been wandering around town hours before the tragic incident.
The group reportedly stopped off at the nearby Grand Tasma Hotel to ask for water at about 12.30am, with the boys making it clear to some of the locals that they spoke to that they didn't plan on going home that night.
The boys then made their way to Port Lincoln's industrial area where they reportedly tried to seek shelter at a McDonald's before deciding to crawl into the industrial bin for the night.
MP calls for independent inquiry
South Australian MP Connie Bonaros has called for an independent inquiry by the Guardian for Children & Young People & the Commissioner for Aboriginal Children & Young People into Spencer's death.
She moved the motion to the Legislative Council on Wednesday, saying the young boy had become the "face of a failed and broken system".
Ms Bonaros said the probe would look at "any failures, shortcomings or neglect of obligations and responsibilities" by any department or agency.
"In particular, I want them to look at the terms and conditions of any guardianship orders or other arrangements the Department for Child Protection and any other agencies have in place and were required to fulfil in relation to all of the children," she said.
She also called on the state coroner to investigate the death as a "matter of urgency", saying many people wanted answers about what led to the boys being inside the bin.
"The child protection system, in this instance, has failed all three boys sleeping in that dumpster," Ms Bonaros said.
Boys were not homeless and had 'beds they could sleep in'
south coast Local Service Area officer in charge Paul Bahr told reporters on Tuesday that the boys were not classified as homeless and had "places to stay … with beds they could sleep in".
"We're not aware of any reports of children sleeping in bins in Port Lincoln. This is the first time we've become aware of it," he said.
"Port Lincoln has an issue with homelessness like every community and from time to time we do get rough sleepers (but) I'm not aware of children sleeping rough."
The Department of Child Protection said the boy was not in state care. A coronial investigation into the tragedy has been launched.
Superintendent Bahr said the two other boys involved in the incident have been "traumatised" by what happened, making it difficult to get specific details from them.
"The background as to how they've ended up in this industrial bin is something that's really going to take some time to understand," he said.
"It will be a strong part of the coronial investigation that we've begun."
The truck driver, who was not aware the boys were inside the bin when he picked it up, was reportedly "extremely shaken" by the incident.
On Tuesday Spencer's aunty read out a statement to Nine on behalf of the family.
"Spencer always had a close relationship with his parents, brothers and grandmothers, who he loved and adored," she read.
"He loved hunting, fishing, camping, was a cheeky boy who had a big imagination."
It is believed Spencer, known as Budda to his friends and family, had been staying with friends recently.
One of Spencer's friends, Holly Puckridge, told 7 News he had asked to "stay with us for a couple of days and we let him sleep over".
Mother Jess Bettoncelli said her 12-year-old son often hung out with the group and with join them in sleeping outside services stations and at local sporting grounds.
"He's very shaken up, he's I think confused," she told the outlet.
"He's I guess wondering and suspecting that that could have been him last night."
Originally published as Final act of loyalty before bin death