Homeless remember sanitation worker killed

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by JASON WHITELY

Bio | Email | Follow: @jasonwhitely

WFAA

Posted on November 21, 2012 at 11:11 PM

Updated Wednesday, Nov 21 at 11:36 PM

DALLAS –– Restoration Church in Garland plans to serve Thanksgiving dinner for the homeless on Thursday afternoon but before they break bread, the less fortunate will say goodbye to one of their own.

"I can't believe he fell off that damn truck," said Stevie Abercrombie, homeless veteran. "My God. I think maybe he had a heart attack or something and fell off."

James Presswood, 59, always insisted he wasn't homeless. He just lived 'outside,' friends said.

For more than a decade, Presswood's home was an old tent home in a wooded area behind a Toyota dealership near LBJ Freeway and Garland Rd.

But unlike his other homeless buddies, Presswood actually went to work everyday. A few years ago, a temp agency got him a job with the City of Richardson Solid Waste Division where he rode on the back of a garbage truck collecting recyclables.

On November 2, though, Presswood fell off and was accidentally run over and killed. Richardson police said officers did not charge the driver with a crime but referred the case to the grand jury.

Presswood's death did not make news when it happened a few weeks ago but his friends said he lived a life worth remembering.

James earned $7.25 an hour from Richardson and made almost $6,000 this year. His life was beginning to change.

"I had him take this room because he gets up at 3:30 in the morning to go to work," said Christopher Pebley, formerly homeless himself.

Two weeks before Presswood died, Pebley invited him to stay in his apartment nearby. James never drank nor panhandled, Pebley said, he just worked and read.

"He would read all the time," Pebley added. "He would read to me because my eyes aren't good enough to read small print."

Five Bibles and a few worn out novels are the only tangible evidence of James Presswood's existence.

Richardson police never could find his next of kin, so Dallas County cremated his body.

Karen Sue Driver, a self-made advocate working in northeast Dallas, said Presswood would be missed at regular meals she served for the homeless in a Dallas motel.

"I've gotten 40 people off the streets in the last three and a half years and I'm really proud of that," she said.

Presswood was a success story until his untimely death, Driver added.

E-mail: jwhitely@wfaa.com

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