A father says he has become the victim of trolling after he shared a concerning post about his daughter getting her arm stuck in a toy machine.
Martin Kristoffersen was working at his gym when he got the call his eight-year-old daughter had got her arm stuck in a skill tester machine at Wynnum Plaza, northeast of Brisbane.
Hannah and her 16-year-old brother had won a prize on the machine and the little girl had put her arm into retrieve the prize. That’s when she got stuck.
Mr Kristoffersen said he dropped everything when his son called, asking for him to come help. At the time, Hannah’s mother was shopping inside Kmart.
Luckily, the father had been renovating his gym, so he grabbed a chisel and a power drill, and made his way to the shopping centre.
Not knowing what he was going to find, Mr Kristoffersen told Yahoo News Australia he was stressing the whole drive over and he asked his son to film the ordeal as evidence.
The videos shot by Mr Kristoffersen’s son show Hannah was very distressed.
Fifteen minutes later, the father arrived at the shopping centre and, while centre management and security were notified, no one had called the fire brigade to help release Hannah, which was particularly puzzling for Mr Kristoffersen, as the station was located just opposite the shopping complex.
Mr Kristoffersen explained centre management was trying to ring the number on the machine and they did not have a key, so he got his chisel out and started “breaking the machine open”.
“I could get the door open and her mum was reassuring her, so people looked after her so I could wiggle that [the door] open, but then there’s a latch inside this chute that locks when it gets pushed,” Mr Kristoffersen told Yahoo News Australia.
All he could do was relieve a bit of pressure on Hannah’s arm and wait for the fire brigade. By the time Hannah was released, she had been stuck in the machine for almost 50 minutes.
“That’s a long time, I think, for anyone having their arm stuck in the middle of the shopping centre,” Mr Kristoffersen said.
After the entire ordeal, the little girl got to keep her toy.
Warning after skill tester incident
What concerned Mr Kristoffersen was the shopping centre seemingly had no plans in place for what to do if someone did get their arm stuck in the machine and he says he has seen other kids get stuck before.
“I was just gobsmacked – they don’t have keys, they can’t contact anyone, they don’t even know to call the fire brigade,” he said.
In a statement to Yahoo News Australia, Wynnum Plaza confirmed the incident and the statement said management immediately called Queensland Fire and Emergency Services (QFES) and Queensland Ambulance Service (QAS).
“Wynnum Plaza is aware of an incident which occurred on Thursday 25 June 2020 whereby a child was attempting to retrieve a prize from a skill-tester machine and has subsequently trapped her arm in the prize chute,” the statement said.
“Once notified, Security and Centre Management staff immediately responded and requested the presence of emergency services with QFES and QAS attending the incident.”
Funnily enough, the machine was back up and running the very next day when Mr Kristoffersen went to Wynnum Plaza.
“So they could get a hold of them, just not when it was an emergency for my daughter,” he said, adding despite calling up management the day after to see what they were going to do to make sure this didn’t happen to another child, he was yet to hear from them.
The experience and concern for other children compelled him to make a public Facebook post about the ordeal to warn other parents and encourage management to do something about children’s limbs getting stuck in game machines.
Dad wakes up to internet abuse
However, despite his good intentions, Mr Kristoffersen says he has been subjected to abuse online, with some people accusing him of being a “bad parent”.
“At the very least I thought I would put my story out there and I’ll make sure it doesn’t happen to any other kid,” he said.
“That was my goal with me putting the post up.”
Mr Kristoffersen said some trolls even started attacking Hannah.
“You would be surprised how much hate mail I’m getting and people threatening me and calling me a ‘bad parent’,” the father said.
One message Mr Kristoffersen said he woke up to on Thursday morning was riddled with profanities directed at his eight-year-old daughter, insinuating she had tried to steal a prize, which was incorrect as she had won a prize as Mr Kristoffersen made clear in his Facebook post.
“There was no maliciousness or trying to steal stuff,” the father told Yahoo News Australia.
“This was just a little girl who saw a prize and said, ‘Wow, we won, I’ll be helpfull, I’ll just grab it’, that was all it was.”
But many of the comments on Mr Kristoffersen’s post were kind and expressed concern for Hannah.
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