POSTED: 3:18 p.m. HST, May 22, 2012
LAST UPDATED: 6:12 a.m. HST, May 23, 2012
CAMDEN, N.J. >> Authorities say a father's prank at a southern New Jersey laundry facility nearly turned tragic when his toddler son briefly got stuck inside an active washing machine.
Now they're hoping to identify and locate the family, so they can ensure that the child wasn't harmed.
The May 11 incident at the Camden business was captured on a surveillance video, which drew millions of hits after being posted on YouTube and other Internet sites.
It shows the father putting the child in the machine — apparently as part of a "peek-a-boo" game. He then shut the door, which locked and started an automatic cycle with the child inside.
The parents frantically pulled on the door for a few seconds as the child continued to spin, then ran to get help. An employee then quickly unplugged the machine, and the child — who did not appear to be hurt — was pulled to safety.
After determining the child appeared fine, the parents ran out of the business. Authorities say the matter does not appear to be criminal, but the matter has been referred to the state's Division of Youth and Family Services.
The laundry's owner told Fox 29 TV in Philadelphia that the father's actions were "ridiculous," and she was thankful that her employee was able to get the child out of the machine before he was seriously injured. She does not know the toddler's parents, but reported the incident to Camden police.
The employee told the TV station: "I was scared the kid would die, but when I pulled him out and saw he was alive, I was very happy."