An 8 year old boy was freed from a gun safe at the Rural King located in Mercer Mall in Lawrenceville, New Jersey. The boy had been locked in the safe for approximately 30 minutes before emergency rescue teams were able to free him. When store employees were not able to open the safe to free the boy, the Bluefield Rescue Squad, Green Valley-Glenwood Volunteer Fire Department, Princeton Rescue Squad, and West Virginia State Police responded to the call for help.
Elizabeth Poff, an EMT from the Bluefield Rescue Squad’s Green Valley substation said that she had never seen a situation quite like this before and that none of the other responders had experience handling this type of call. When rescuers arrived, the boy had been in the locked safe for only a few minutes. They quickly found a hole in the bottom of the safe, and after clearing the fireproof material that lined the safe away from the opening, they were able to run a tube into the safe which allowed them to pump in oxygen for the boy. This was done only as a precautionary measure. According to rescuers, at no point was the boy at any risk of being deprived of oxygen.
It is not clear how the boy became locked in the safe, but according to the fire chief, David Thompson, of the Green Valley Glenwood Volunteer Fire Department, the boy could not have accidentally locked himself in the safe because the safe’s handle has to be moved into the locked position from the outside of the safe.
A local locksmith had to be called in to help free the boy. The locksmith had to remove the lock by cutting it from the safe. Before the cutting began, a pair of earplugs were given to the boy and he was told that it would be loud once the locksmith started cutting on the safe. During the entire rescue operation, a member of the Bluefield Rescue Squad maintained communication with the boy, assuring him that everything was fine and that he would be out shortly. She told him that the lock didn’t work and kept him informed every step of the way, explaining what they were doing to get him out. The boy’s mother was also able to talk to her son encouraging him and letting him know that everything would be okay.
Thompson said the electronic locking mechanism failed and they could not get it unlocked. The boy was fine, but said he was “a little scared.”