Worker stuck in ATM was about to write messages in his own blood

Contractor got stuck in the ATM in Corpus Christi. (KRIS)
The note a contractor gave someone after he got stuck in the ATM in Corpus Christi. (KRIS)

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas (KXAN) — A contract worker who became stuck inside an ATM at a Corpus Christi bank on July 12 says he’s embarrassed by what happened, but — since his escape — thinks it’s a little funny, too.

James Portillo was changing a lock to the Bank of America room that leads to the ATM when he realized he was stuck. He started passing notes to customers through the ATM receipt slot that said, “Please help, I’m stuck in here…”

But customers thought it was a joke. Without a cell phone to call for help, it took three hours before someone finally took his pleas seriously and called police.

Portillo spoke to KRISTV about the incident, saying he set off the alarms in the ATM room at first to get someone’s attention. When that didn’t work, he considered using his own blood to write a message to customers using the ATM.

“I had a knife on me. I said, you know, I’ll just cut myself and write on it like that,” Portillo said. “I looked down and I had a pen in my pocket. Thank God I had a pen in my pocket for some reason.”

When police finally pulled up, they could hear a little voice coming from the machine. “So we’re all thinking this is a joke. This gotta be a joke,” Richard Olden with Corpus Christi police said.

Portillo was relieved to get out of the room. “Thank God they had air conditioning in there, if not, I probably wouldn’t [have] made it out of there.” provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Users who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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