Public/Global Health

DC bulldozes tent at encampment with homeless person still inside

Washington, D.C., officials are changing their process for clearing homeless encampments after a person who lived in a local camp was reportedly picked up by a Bobcat front-end loader on Monday.

The Bobcat was pushing tents and their contents over a three-foot-tall metal rail to clear the camp when it mistakenly picked up a tent with a man still inside it, according to WTOP, a local radio station in D.C.

WTOP reported that the man screamed from inside the tent and was taken to the hospital after police and a member of an advocacy group tended to him on the scene. 

D.C. Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services Wayne Turnage told WTOP that the man was expected to be OK after he was examined at the hospital. 

Turnage said his team had checked the tent before clearing it to ensure no one was inside. He added it was unclear if the man went back into the tent after it was checked or if he was missed during the initial inspection. 

"Whatever the case, we will make sure that it does not happen again," Turnage said to WTOP.

Specifically, Turnage said someone would check each tent and stand beside it to ensure that no one reenters the premises while the Bobcat operates. 

D.C. Council member Charles Allen (D) said the incident was "incredibly frustrating" and argued that large machines should be used only for large items and biohazards at the end of the clearing process, WTOP reported.

The city has an apartment ready for the man who was injured in the Bobcat incident, according to WTOP.

The Hill has reached out to D.C.'s Office of the Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services for more information.