A missing Nebraska toddler was found trapped inside a toy claw machine. The 3-year-old boy was reported missing on Monday evening. Authorities said the child escaped his mother’s apartment, walked to a local bowling alley, and climbed inside the machine.
The unidentified mother said the her son left the apartment while she was using the restroom. When she realized he was missing, she immediately called 911.
The Lincoln Police Department responded to the scene and began interviewing neighbors. One of the neighbors said a child, who matched the toddler’s description, was spotted at Madsen’s Bowling Alley and Billiards.
The officers responded to the bowling alley and found the toddler trapped inside a toy claw machine. As reported by ABC News, bartender Rachell Hildreth witnessed the incident. Hildreth said the toddler appeared to be enjoying his adventure:
“I really don’t think he noticed any of us outside the machine because he was just picking up stuffed animals and putting them down where they come out of.”
VVS, who owns the claw machine, sent a representative to free the child. Jim Lakey responded to the scene and opened the machine with a special key. Lakey said he “heard about this happening in other parts of the country.”
Lakey said it is possible for a child to enter the machine through the chute that dispenses the toys. However, “you have to weave your way in and out so he had to work pretty hard to get in there.”
Although children do become trapped inside toy claw machines, it is rare.
Authorities said the toddler was freed from the machine without further incident. KLKN TV reports that the mother will not face any charges. Officers said the mother “acted quickly and appropriately” when she realized the child was missing.
The toddler’s efforts did not go unrewarded, he was allowed to choose one free stuffed animal from the claw machine.
The Nebraska toddler is not the first to become trapped inside a toy machine. Although the distribution chute is not an obvious point of access, numerous small children have managed to squeeze through the slot and wiggle their way inside the machines.
For some children the promise of a free toy is simply too difficult to resist. Although the situation is frightening for parents and rescue workers, the children often appear happy to be surrounded by stuffed toys.
Thankfully, the Nebraska toddler was not harmed when he climbed inside the toy claw machine.