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‘Freaky things happen’: Tinley boy gets stuck in playground bars

School officials comfort stuck child as firefighters cut away pieces playground equipment free child Hellen Keller School Tinley Park Illinois

School officials comfort a stuck child as firefighters cut away pieces of playground equipment to free the child at Hellen Keller School in Tinley Park, Illinois, Wednesday, October 24, 2012. | Joseph P. Meier~Sun Times Media

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Updated: November 26, 2012 7:13AM



If a certain Tinley Park boy is asked what he learned in school Wednesday, he’ll have an answer: that if he sticks his elbow between the bars on some playground equipment, he might not be able to get it out — at least not without help from the fire department.

Helen Keller Elementary School Principal Joann Green said the boy to whom that happened during a kindergarten-through-second-grade lunch period was not injured. He stuck his arm, elbow first, into the bars between 11:30 and 11:45 a.m., and his arm swelled up to the point where he was unable to dislodge it.

Green said throughout the ordeal, she was below the part of the equipment where the student was standing, holding his hand.

“He wasn’t screaming,” Green said. “He was just stuck.”

School officials tried to lubricate his arm with soap to free him, but when that failed, they called 911, and firefighters rushed to the scene.

Kirby School District 140 assistant Supt. Julia Mikulich also stopped by to monitor the curious situation.

“It certainly isn’t routine,” Mikulich said.

Tinley Park Fire Department Battalion Chief Steve Klotz said eight firefighters, including himself, and two fire engines responded to the school two minutes after the call came in at 11:52 a.m. He said the firefighters used an all-purpose saw to cut one of the bars so it could be bent and the boy could free his arm. The process took about 12 minutes.

“He was a strong little boy,” Klotz said. “He wasn’t crying. He was in a great spirits.”

Tinley Park medics determined the boy was OK, and his parents picked him up from the school at 12:30 p.m., Green said.

School officials wrapped tape around the playground with the broken bars and posted signs declaring it off limits for now.

“It’s just freaky,” Green said. “Freaky things happen.”



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