STOLLINGS, W.Va. — A Logan County woman died last week after police say she was found in the back of a garbage truck as it was emptying.
The incident happened in the Stollings area near Logan on the afternoon of Wednesday, Sept. 1, according to West Virginia State Police, which is the investigating agency. Marcella Canterbury, 33, died after she was recovered from the back of a garbage truck.
According to WVSP Cpl. James Harris, police believe Canterbury may have been trying to find shelter during heavy rainfall in the area last week, crawling into the dumpster and later being picked up in the garbage truck during its routine stop to remove the trash inside.
Police say Canterbury was still alive when found, but she later died at Logan Regional Medical Center.
Police also said that Canterbury was found to be homeless after conducting interviews with several locals familiar with her.
One person who knew Canterbury is Brenda Short, owner of Brenda’s Variety Store and More & Grocery on Dingess Street in Logan. Short said she had gotten to know Canterbury as a store regular, describing her as a “sweet lady” who was a bit on the quiet side.
“She’d always come in here and get a frozen dinner,” Short said. “We’d microwave it for her, you know. We’d offer her stuff to drink and give her silverware to eat with. She was a really sweet lady. A lot of times, she’d disappear for a week at a time, but if she was in the area, she’d always come in here two or three times a day. It finally got to the point where she’d actually open up and talk to me. She was just quiet with everyone else. After a little bit of time, I got her to talking to me, and she was actually talking about going back to school and getting a degree and all sorts.”
Short, who used to work for Waste Management, described Canterbury’s untimely death as “heartbreaking.”
“It’s hard for me to even talk about it because it tears my heart apart,” Short said. “I know she died a tragic death because I used to drive those trucks. It should have never happened.”
Marti Dolin, who is heavily involved in the weekly street ministry services in Logan, also knew Canterbury as a regular whom she would see while helping to feed, clothe and provide other essentials to those in need.
“Marcella’s death was tragic, but also is the reason why she died,” Dolin said. “She was simply looking to get out of the rain and lost her life. Lord, forgive us! This speaks volumes of the lack of available assistance to those precious ones on the streets, and yes, I call them precious ones. Not all of those looked down upon are homeless because of addiction — some are victim of foreclosure, but for others, it’s all poverty. Poor people are frequently unable to pay for housing, food, childcare, healthcare and education. Difficult choices must be made when limited resources cover only some of these necessities.
“Our prayer has been that our sweet, quiet and somewhat shy Marcella’s tragic death, will shine a light in these invisible ones,” Dolin added. “She was young and had much potential for the life that was ahead of her, and should still be alive today and would be … if only …”
A GoFundMe to help cover burial or cremation expenses has been set up by Canterbury’s sister at https://www.gofundme.com/f/to-help-either-bury-my-sister-or-cremate.