ANTIGO, Wis. – Three-year-old Robert Moore went fishing for a stuffed replica of Sponge Bob and ended up trapped in a vending machine. The toddler’s adventure began with a Saturday evening shopping trip with his grandmother, Fredricka Bierdemann, and three siblings.
Bierdemann ended the trip by giving each child a dollar and telling them to have fun in a retailer’s game room.
A stuffed Sponge Bob in a vending machine’s bin caught Robert’s eye. He tried without success to fish it out with a plastic crane.
“I told him I could get it for him,” his grandmother said. “He’s a character. He said, ‘Oh no, I can get it.'”
When she turned her back to get another dollar for a second try, Robert took off his coat and squeezed through an opening in the machine. He landed in the stuffed animal cube. [huh, if I can’t even get my arm in one of those machines, how does an entire kid climb in that quickly?]
“I turned around and looked for him, and he said, ‘Oma, I’m in here,” Bierdemann said. “I thought I would have a heart attack.”
Store employees couldn’t find a key to the machine, so Robert waited while the Antigo Fire Department was called.
“He was having a ball in there, hugging all the stuffed animals,” Bierdemann said. “He was so good-natured, but I was shaking like a leaf.”
Firefighters broke one lock but then spotted two latches inside the plastic cube. They passed a screwdriver to Robert.
“He stacked up all the stuffed animals and used that screwdriver to open the latch,” his grandmother said. “You should have seen him go.” [seriously? 3 years old?]
Eventually, Robert freed himself. But his mother, Marie Moore, and grandmother said they were lucky that he remained calm when another child might not have. He went home safe — but without a stuffed Sponge Bob.
Information from: Antigo Daily Journal, http://www.antigodailyjournal.com