Video of garbage truck mechanical arm throwing woman, bench goes viral

Charles Molineaux
Updated: September 15, 2020 08:12 PM
Created: September 15, 2020 06:10 PM

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — Rochester city officials declared themselves eager to talk to a woman seen in a now-viral video being thrown from a bus stop bench by the mechanical arm on a trash truck.

"It was a freak, a freak of nature," said Nicola Hustleby, who suffered cuts, scrapes and bruises in the July incident, which was never the subject of any official report at the time. "Who the hell thinks that's going to happen to you? No. I would never think I'm gonna hit by a buy garbage truck getting the garbage."


In an interview with News10NBC, Hustleby said she's at the South Avenue and Comfort Street bus stop three or four times a week and, as she sat on the bench, she never gave a thought to the city truck as its mechanical arm grabbed the trash can right next to her on the corner, and gripped her bench, ripping it off its legs, with her on it. 

"It came up and smashed into the bench," she said. “Luckily, not my side. The other side. And threw me in the street. And I got all scratched, scraped up arms, legs."

"This was really an unexpected error, that's really all I can say," said Rochester City Operations Director Karen St. Aubin on Tuesday, who said the city had been unaware of what happened until a video of the incident was posted online.

“It was disturbing to see, certainly, and I wanted to make sure… ‘Did we have a report of this or what have you?’  Unfortunately, the operator did not report it.”

It was Hafad Alghithy, the owner of the Shop Smart corner store who uploaded the video which he discovered in his security camera files, along with later scenes of people falling when they tried to sit on the damaged bench, which has since been removed. 

The city didn't even know who Hustleby was until News10NBC reached out to city representatives.

And officials want to talk to the driver, who they say is to blame for the accident with the mechanical arm.

"He retired shortly after that time, and he did not report the incident," St. Aubin said.

Hustleby has recovered since the incident but admits she's less than impressed with the driver’s response.

“And then he came out, and he said, ‘Are you okay?’ I go ‘No… you threw me on the street and I dropped my coffee and my cigarettes.’ Guess what he did. He walked in the store and bought me a big coffee and got me a pack of cigarettes. And that was the last I heard from him.”

Hustleby said she was grateful to learn the incident had been captured on video and said she was hoping to talk with a lawyer.

St. Aubin said she was looping in the city’s attorneys, hoping to speak with the woman in the video and track down the driver to talk with him.

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