SHEBOYGAN, Wis. – A 7-year-old boy had to be rescued with the help of a locksmith Saturday after crawling into a supermarket’s stuffed animal game machine while his father talked on the telephone.
“He was sitting right in there with the stuffed animals,” said Shift Commander Mark Zittel of the Sheboygan Fire Department. He said the boy, whose name was not released because he is a minor, crawled through about an 8-inch-by-10-inch opening to get into the glass enclosure via a chute where the toys come out, but when he tried to get back out his way was blocked.
The stuffed animals are prizes that can be hooked by players with a crane-like device.
“His dad was three feet away at a pay phone,” Zittel said. “He was talking on the phone and he said the next thing he turned around and the kid was in the thing.” He said the boy stayed calm and didn’t panic as firefighters responded to the Piggly Wiggly store and then moved the game machine to the back of the store and got a locksmith to open the main loading door. The process took about an hour. “There was no panic,” Zittel said. “We could have broke the glass if there was an emergency.”
The boy was not injured or traumatized but desperately had to go to the bathroom, he said. But rescuers hadn’t figured out how the boy was able to crawl into the game, or why no one in the store’s busy lobby spotted him and stopped him before he got inside.