It was the sort of thing bored children might do in a Laundromat, and had not Scott S. Norman been there to act quickly, it might have been tragic.
Tiara Tuisata, 3, playing with her 7-year-old sister and a cousin, apparently climbed into one of the heavy-duty, front-loading washing machines, Garden Grove police said. A customer had put coins into the machine and filled it with soap, but had walked away when it didn't start, police said. When Tiara's sister slammed the door shut, it locked and the machine started.
Norman, a tile setter from Torrance, was on his way home from a job when he stopped to make a call from a nearby pay phone, and ". . saw a guy run out of the Laundromat and he looked like he had panic written all over him," he said. The man told him that a child was trapped in one of the washing machines.
Norman saw "a little leg going around and a hand pass by" in the window of the machine. He could not yank the door open, so he broke the glass with a hammer from his tool box.
Tiara was taken first to the Medical Center of Garden Grove and then to St. Mary's Medical Center in Long Beach, where she was reported in fair condition with cuts and possible pneumonia.