The victim of last Thursday’s death in Helena, 26-year-old Jacob Garza, refused help from several sources before he was killed when a garbage truck picked up the cardboard box where he was sleeping, and he died as a result of blunt force trauma.

KGVO News reached out to Lewis and Clark County Sheriff and Coroner Leo Dutton, who provided the whole story about Garza’s tragic, but unnecessary death.

Dutton said Garza’s first contact that Thursday was with the Montana Highway Patrol.

“This individual had been in the Helena area,” began Sheriff Dutton. “The 26-year-old male had been out on the interstate and had been found unresponsive. He was taken to the hospital and cared for, but he was homeless and was a transient, and apparently ended up at the recycling area and crawled into a cardboard compactor at night.”

Dutton described what happened when the city employee arrived to begin his duties.

“The individual who was operating the equipment did not know that (Garza was there) and arrived and began to do his job,” he said. “Unfortunately, the individual was killed during the operation of that equipment. (The death) was accidental due to blunt force trauma, but it was not the fault of the operator of the equipment.”

Dutton was careful to state that help was offered to Garza by numerous agencies, but he chose not to take it.

“There’s a certain thing called free will,” he said. “You can only control so much. You can offer services. Missoula does; I know Helena does and so do Great Falls, Bozeman and Billings, but you have to be willing to accept those services. I know this young man had been offered those services, and he didn't take them. So I don't think that story has been told.”

Dutton said at every point the authorities in Helena attempted to provide services to Garza, but he refused.

“The Highway Patrol had dealt with him,” he said. “They had made sure that he got to the hospital that he was looked at and that he was treated. When he was found he wasn't responsive, so he was taken to the hospital. So they did their part. There’s nothing that they could have done better. The hospital treated him and there's nothing that they could have done better. There are places you can go, there are things you can do. He even had transportation, but he chose not to use it. So again, we're back to free will.”

Dutton closed by stating ‘Some people choose to live free and not take advantage of services that we have’.

Dutton asked KGVO News to let the public know that Helena did everything it could to offer assistance to the victim.

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