TITUSVILLE, Fla. - When a young Central Florida boy wanted a stuffed toy, he crawled inside a claw-style vending machine in the play area of a restaurant to fetch one. And, he got stuck inside the glass-encased structure.
Thankfully, off-duty firefighter Jeremy House was also having dinner at the Beef O'Brady's restaurant in Titusville. He yelled for someone to call 911 and his colleagues from a nearby fire station joined him in rescuing the 6-year-old boy, named Mason.
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"I was just thinking, 'How could a kid get in this machine?'" Titusville Fire Department Lt. Mike Abernathy said.
"To actually arrive on scene and see the kid inside the game, pretty interesting sight," another responding firefighter, Kyle George said.
Mason sat atop the stuffed toys while firefighters took just seven minutes to get him out, according to the Garden Street store owner Ash Shah.
"Somehow, he was able to fit through that door," Shah said.
Mason crawled into the machine in response to a dare from other children playing in the store's game room, according to Shah.
Firefighters said the boy was embarrassed, but wasn't in distress. And the machine sustained minimal damage.
"We used our extrication tools to break the lock, pull the pins, and extricate the child out of the machine," Abernathy said.
"It doesn't make sense on how he got up there," firefighter Roman Lane said.
Mason and his family returned to their meal after the ordeal.
Abernathy owns his own restaurant, Jabbers in Canaveral Groves. He advises parents to always keep an eye on their children while dining out.
"As a parent myself, you leave your kid for two seconds and your kid's gone. So having your kid play in a little play area, that could have happened to any child," Abernathy said.
Beef O Brady's Chief Marketing Officer Heather Boggs said the company is reviewing its safety protocol related to its games.
"Thankfully, a member of Titusville Fire & Emergency Services was dining in our restaurant off-duty and their team was able to get the boy out of the game quickly and return him - with his new stuffed animal - to his family to resume dinner," Boggs said.
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