ANTIGO, Wis. - Three year old Robert Moore went fishing for a stuffed replica of SpongeBob SquarePants and ended up trapped in a vending machine. The toddler's adventure began with a Saturday evening shopping trip with his grandmother, Fredricka Bierdemann, and three siblings.
Bierdemann ended the trip by giving each child a dollar and telling them to have fun in a retailer's game room. A stuffed SpongeBob in a vending machine's bin caught Robert's eye. He tried without success to fish it out with a plastic crane.
"I told him I could get it for him," his grandmother said. "He's a character. He said, 'Oh no, I can get it."'
When she turned her back to get another dollar for a second try, Robert took off his coat and squeezed through an opening in the machine. He landed in the stuffed animal cube.
"I turned around and looked for him, and he said, 'Oma, I'm in here," Bierdemann said. "I thought I would have a heart attack."
Store employees couldn't find a key to the machine, so Robert waited while the Antigo Fire Department was called.
"He was having a ball in there, hugging all the stuffed animals," Bierdemann said. "He was so good-natured, but I was shaking like a leaf."
Firefighters broke one lock but then spotted two latches inside the plastic cube. They passed a screwdriver to Robert.
"He stacked up all the stuffed animals and used that screwdriver to open the latch," his grandmother said. "You should have seen him go."
Eventually, Robert freed himself. But his mother, Marie Moore, and grandmother said they were lucky that he remained calm when another child might not have. He went home safe - but without a stuffed SpongeBob.