Toddler trapped in toy claw machine ‘has time of his life’ as police scramble to rescue him

1 February 2024, 19:52

The boy was stuck in the claw machine after climbing into the prize dispenser.
The boy was stuck in the claw machine after climbing into the prize dispenser. Picture: Queensland Police

By Jenny Medlicott

A three-year-old boy trapped inside a toy claw machine was having ‘the time of his life’ before he was rescued, his father says.

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Timothy Hopper had been shopping with his son Ethan in southeast Queensland, Australia, when the toddler climbed into the claw machine before his father could notice.

Ethan climbed into the machine through the prize dispenser, sending his dad into a panic while the three-year-old calmly enjoyed new surroundings.

Mr Hopper said while he was worried about his son, it was hard not to laugh because Ethan was “having the time of his life”.

He told ABC News: “I had zero chance to react to it, it was unbelievable how fast he climbed up there.

"I was watching him and then I was talking to my children."

Mr Hopper said he “couldn’t help but laugh” during the incident as he asked himself “how has this happened”.

“Because he wasn't hurt, he wasn't sad, so it was easy to have a laugh when he was having the time of his life"

"But then reality sunk in - how am I going to get him out," he added.

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Ethan climbed into the toy machine before his dad could notice.
Ethan climbed into the toy machine before his dad could notice. Picture: Queensland Police

Mr Hopper called the claw machine company, he said: “They were asking me how much money I had put in the machine [and if the money was] stuck in the machine.

"My response was 'the only thing stuck in the machine is my child, I'd love to have him back'."

Police officers arrived soon after, where they strategised about how to get Ethan out.

Eventually, they told Ethan to climb into the corner of the machine and cover his eyes while they broke the front glass panel loose.

He was then promptly lifted out of the machine and back into the arms of his dad.

Ethan then reassured his father: “Don't worry dad, I won't do it again."

The police freed Ethan from the machine.
The police freed Ethan from the machine. Picture: Queensland Police

Senior Constable Stuart Power said it was the first time he’d been called to such a rescue in his 11-year career.

He said: “For him [Ethan] to get distraught in there, it would've made things a lot harder to abstract him on the night," he said.

"We directed him to the back corner and to cover his eyes which he was exceedingly happy to do, he bounced into the corner. Kids are going to be kids."

A Capalaba Park Shopping Centre spokesperson also said: "We are in discussions with the claw machine vendor to review what measures can be put in place to avoid this happening again."

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