The surveillance video, shot at Federal Laundromat, has garnered national attention. In it, a man initially believed to be the boy’s father appears to horse around with the child, picking him up and placing him inside the stainless steel washer. He closes the door. The man panics when the machine starts, the door locks, and he can’t open it.
As the machine begins to cycle, the woman who came in with the boy becomes hysterical. Workers scurry to the rescue as the pair’s efforts to open the door fail.
Finally, an employee turns off the machine by removing the back panel and killing the circuit.
Even then, for a few more tense moments, the door can’t be opened. Finally, it’s pried open and the man and woman check the child for injuries.
The boy, who appeared to be unharmed after the 80 second ordeal, was taken to a nearby hospital.
Investigators do not believe the man was trying to abuse the boy, and that it’s unlikely criminal charges will be filed, said Jason Laughlin, a spokesman for the Camden County Prosecutor’s Office. But, he cautioned that investigators still need to fully interview those involved.
“We can say that based on the evidence, based on the video, and based on conversations with people at the laundromat at the time, that it doesn’t appear there was criminality,” Laughlin said.
However, he said the incident could be referred to the state Division of Youth and Family Services.
“If you look at the video, he is clearly not trying to punish the child, and that he was playing around,” Laughlin said. “He didn’t realize that by closing the door, that would lock it and automatically turn the machine on.”
Investigators believe there was either time left on the machine, or coins had been placed in it, causing it to start automatically.
Copies of the video, originally posted on YouTube and dated May 11, have been viewed millions of times.