Video of boy in Camden washing machine goes viral

A video grab of the scary moments. The boy appeared unhurt. The video was posted by the laundromat owner’s son.
A video grab of the scary moments. The boy appeared unhurt. The video was posted by the laundromat owner’s son.
Posted: May 25, 2012

A video has gone viral of a man putting a young boy in a washing machine at a Camden laundromat, then scrambling to find help after the machine automatically locks and turns on.

A maintenance worker was able to shut the machine down before the boy was injured, but YouTube videos of footage from a surveillance camera at the Federal Laundromat, near 24th and Federal Streets, have attracted hundreds of thousands of views.

In the video, titled “Epic Parenting Fail at a Laundromat” and posted last week, a man is seen horsing around with the toddler. He picks the boy up, places him inside the stainless steel washer, and closes the door, obviously unaware that it will lock automatically. The man panics when the machine starts.

As the washer begins to cycle, a woman who came into the laundromat with the man and boy becomes hysterical. Workers scurry to the rescue as the pair’s efforts to open the door fail.

Finally, an employee, Kong Enh, 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. Enh soon removes the child, whom he turns over to the man and woman, who check him for injuries.

“I didn’t have any time, so I shut down all the machines,” Enh, a 41-year-old resident of East Camden, said Wednesday. “He was crying when I opened the door. I was very happy he was OK.”

The boy’s mother, Sakia David, of Camden, said Wednesday that she didn’t know about the May 11 incident until she saw the video on the news. The 1-year-old was not seriously harmed during the 80-sec¬ond ordeal and was taken to a hospital and treated for cuts and bruises, she said.

The woman in the video is a girlfriend of the boy’s father and was babysitting, she said. David said she did not recognize the man in the video, but considered the incident an accident and didn’t think anyone should be charged.

The boy, who appeared to be unharmed after the 80-second ordeal, was taken to a hospital. The man and the woman have been identified by police as “a babysitter and her acquaintance.”

The video, which is time-stamped May 11, was posted by laundromat owner Lorng “Lori” Chhour’s 20-year-old son, a student at Temple University. Others have since posted the video, one version with a “Benny Hill” soundtrack.

“I’m surprised it has gotten so much attention,” Chhour said. “I’ve had so many calls from news reporters. They call from all over, from New York and everywhere.”

Investigators do not believe the man was trying to abuse the boy, and no criminal charges will be filed, said Jason Laughlin, a spokesman for the Camden County Prosecutor’s Office.

“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. “He didn’t realize that by closing the door, that would lock it and automatically turn the machine on.”

However, Laughlin said, the matter has been referred to the state Division of Youth and Family Services. A spokeswoman for the agency declined to comment, citing rules protecting children’s privacy.

Investigators believe there was either time left on the machine, or coins had been placed in it, causing it to start automatically.

On Wednesday afternoon laundromat patrons expressed shock and curiosity that someone would place a child in a washing machine.

“Oh my God, that happened here?” said Michelle Martinez before her companion asked for the online link.

One person who doesn’t plan to view it is Enh.

“I don’t use the Internet,” he said. “I watch television.”

Contact James Osborne at 856-779-3876, jaosborne@phillynews.com or on Twitter @osborneja.


View “Epic Parenting Fail at a Laundromat” at www.philly.com/laundromat.

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