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Man Frees Girl Trapped in Washer

November 13, 2002

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LONG BEACH, Calif. (AP) _ A 6-year-old girl was trapped in a coin-operated washing machine that was filling with water until a passer-by saw her and smashed the appliance’s window with a tire iron, authorities said.

The girl and her rescuer were taken to a hospital, where the child underwent surgery to repair cuts to her face and body. She was in stable condition. Kloeum Nhem, 36, received stitches for cuts on his arm and was released.

The girl was at the laundry with her mother Tuesday when she climbed into the front-loading machine and the door closed behind her, said Fire Department spokesman Wayne Chaney. When the wash cycle began, the door locked and she couldn’t get out.

As the washer begin to fill with water, Kloeum Nhem tried to smash the glass with his arm. When that failed, he got a tire iron from his car.

``It appears that some kids were playing, some siblings, and somehow she ended up in the washer,″ Chaney said. ``We’re very fortunate this young man was quick thinking.″

Nhem said the mother was ``crying nearby as I pulled her out.″

The Fire Department closed the laundry for electrical code violations, Chaney said.

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