3-year-old stuck inside stuffed-animal claw machine

LINCOLN, Neb. (CNN/KETV) — A child is safe after climbing into and getting stuck inside a stuffed animal claw crane machine at a bowling alley in Lincoln, Neb.

Monday evening, “Curious George” wasn’t the only curiosity in this vending machine at Madsens Bowling and Billiards.

“He said there was a child inside the Bear Claw machine,” said bowling alley worker Rachel Hildreth.

Hildreth couldn’t believe it until she saw it for herself.

“There’s like a 3-year-old child inside the machine, playing with the stuffed animals, just throwing them around,” said Hildreth.

They believe he crawled in through the prize door — which has a safety stop — then scaled into the pit. He wasn’t hurt or scared.

“There was probably 25 people surrounding him, but he didn’t notice anybody,” said Hildreth. “He was just inside playing with the stuffed animals.”

But how to get him out?

Employees called the vendor with the key to open the machine and then called police when they couldn’t find the boy’s mom.

“Saying there was child here with no parent,” said Hildreth.

Just across the street, a mother had also called police around 5:30 p.m. She had returned from going to the bathroom to find her son missing.

“So we had officers in the area searching the neighborhood,” said Lincoln Police Officer Katie Flood.

They found a customer from the bowling alley looking for a missing parent.

“Everything was fine, and he got out fine,” said Hildreth.

The toddler even got to keep one his new stuffed friends — a reminder of his unbelievable adventure.

Police said the mother was not cited because she contacted police as soon as she realized her son was missing.

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