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Toddler Trapped in Georgia Bank Vault for Hours

Feb 26, 2011 – 1:51 PM
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Lisa Holewa

Lisa Holewa Contributor

A 14-month-old girl who wandered away from her mom at a suburban Atlanta bank was accidentally locked inside a vault, where she remained trapped for several hours, police said.

Rescue workers pumped fresh air into the vault's vents at the Wells Fargo branch in Conyers, and a professional safecracker managed to open it Friday evening with the aid of "a very large drill," Conyers Police Chief Gene Wilson told reporters.

He described it as a "very tense scene."

The little girl was with her mother and grandmother, who works at the bank, at closing time, Wilson said. She apparently wandered away and went into the vault. It was unclear whether the vault automatically shut behind her or if an employee closed it, not realizing someone was inside.

Because the vault was on a timer-release, it would have remained locked for the night, Wilson told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Paramedics and firefighters were unable to open it and called in the specialist, who received a high-speed police escort to the bank. "Other than a child being in there, it was a routine job," safe technician Ron Snively told WXIA-TV.

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The child was spotted on security cameras and could be heard crying during the rescue. "The toddler was safe the whole time," Wells Fargo spokesman Jay Lawrence told WSBT TV.

She was reunited with her mom after about four hours. "That was one of the better moments I've ever witnessed," Wilson said.

The toddler was unharmed, the chief added, but did need a fresh diaper.
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