Search for answers after unimaginable tragedy
The death of a Port Lincoln teenager in a rubbish truck accident after he slept in an industrial bin has plunged his school into mourning as police visited the family home.
The Aboriginal flag at Lincoln Gardens Primary school, in the town's outer south, flew at half-mast on Wednesday in tribute to the 13-year-old, described as a "well-liked, caring and friendly" pupil.
The boy was sleeping in the bin with two friends when the truck emptied it, killing him.
As counsellors consoled devastated students, local leaders said his death early on Tuesday has overwhelmed the school community with a "deep sense of sadness and loss".
Detectives and crime scene officers visited the family home on Wednesday, located a few streets away from the school, as part of the ongoing coronial investigation.
They are investigating why the boy, and two friends aged 12 and 11 - none of whom can be named - slept in the dumpster of small mall in the Eyre Peninsula town's south despite having beds "available to them".
Senior police say at least one boy was reported missing hours before the incident but say the inquiry was not investigating homelessness issues.
A large group of relatives and friends have rallied for the boy's family, while a shrine continued to grow at the Tennant Street scene.
His relatives issued a statement describing how the teenager, the eldest of five boys, had a "special bond" with his siblings and close relationship with wider family. He was not in state care.
"He was a cheeky young boy who had a very big imagination and loved to spin a good yarn and laugh with whomever was willing to listen," said the family, who, along with local Aboriginal elders, requested he not be publicly named.
Sandra Spencer, principal at Lincoln Gardens Primary, where the boy was in Year 7, said the school was concentrating on supporting students and staff "as they process this sad news".
"(He) was a well-liked, caring, friendly student at our school," she told parents in a community letter.
"He also loved to share stories and spend time outside with nature, he will be greatly missed."
Local Education Department director Rowena Fox said the "tragic event" had caused immense distress.
"There is a deep sense of sadness and loss across, which is being keenly felt by those who knew him well," she said.
"(Yesterday) morning we spoke about his unique talent for storytelling and how people warmed to him for his lovely personality and sense of humour."
She said counsellors were meeting individual students and in groups to "help them come to terms with what has happened".
Police said the boys plunged more than 3m when the Veolia waste management truck, on its usual route, emptied it on Tennant Street at 5.20am on Tuesday.
One boy, 12, managed to spring free and tried in vain to alert the truck driver while the 11-year-old miraculously fell from the bin unharmed.
Officers, who arrived shortly before paramedics, dragged the seriously injured teenager out of the rubbish but despite their desperate attempts he died at the scene in the truck's rear.
A major police line of inquiry is establishing why the trio chose to sleep rough in the bin, located outside a local Repco building and adjacent the town's McDonalds.
Among those who visited the shrine on Wednesday was Munnalita Kojcic, 47, and her seven year-old son Marius.
"My heart just sank when I heard what happened," she said.
A report is being prepared for the Coroner.
Originally published as Search for answers after unimaginable tragedy