Community Leader Emeritus
Full text @ Firehouse.comELKHART, Ind. (AP) -- A 3-year-old boy upset that his mother wouldn't let him use a crane vending machine to try to win a small stuffed animal took matters in his own hands. He climbed up the chute to get the prize himself.
Danielle Manges said she took her eyes off her son, James, for a moment to pick up a juice bottle he threw. When she looked up, he was in with the plush toys.
''I bent over to clean it and within two seconds he had climbed through the hole, into the chute and pushed the door shut so we couldn't get him out,'' she said. ''He climbed up in the toys and was in there for a good hour.''
Manges said James has been sick and sleeping odd hours so they went shopping about 3 a.m. Thursday at a Wal-Mart in the city some 15 miles east of South Bend. She let the boy play on some of the rides, but wouldn't give him money for the vending machine.
At first, Manges thought it was funny.
''He was playing with all the toys and hanging from the bar like a monkey,'' she said.
Manges said people leaving the store went back inside to buy disposable cameras to take photos of her son. She bought one herself.
She became upset, however, when Wal-Mart employees said they did not have a key to let James out. So Manges called the fire department for help.
''I expected his hand to be caught in the machine but it was his entire body in the machine,'' firefighter Anthony Coleman said. ''He was swinging from a bar, jumping around. He was having a ball.''
About 40 people watched as the firefighters removed the back of the machine and freed him.
James still came up empty handed.
''He definitely didn't get a toy after that,'' Manges said.