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Curious toddler climbs into Atlanta airport luggage chute
A toddler is seen on an Atlanta International Airport conveyor belt on July 22, 2019. (Atlanta Airport via AP)
Jeff Martin, The Associated Press
Published Thursday, July 25, 2019 2:50PM EDT
ATLANTA -- Dramatic video shows a toddler who climbed onto a conveyor belt scrambling over suitcases during his wild ride on a luggage chute that took him underground inside the world's busiest airport.
Edith Vega's son Lorenzo, 2, climbed aboard the belt when she briefly set him down to print a boarding pass at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport on Monday, she told police.
Security video later released by the airport shows some of what happened next.
One camera recorded Lorenzo disappearing feet-first through a rubber curtain, beyond the reach of his mother and an airport worker.
Video then shows him crawling over bags, trying to avoid being pulled through a large screening machine that resembles a darkened cave above the conveyor belt. But the conveyer is too fast, and it pulls him inside. He pops out on the other side, only to tumble down into another room where startled security workers pluck him from the belt and give him hugs.
The screening machine had detected a problem, and diverted the child on a path for bags in need of more checks, TSA spokesman Mark Howell said Thursday. That's when workers rushed to help, the video shows.
“The officers who work down there, almost all of them are parents,” Howell said. “Their initial instinct was to get that kid back to the mom. They kicked into overdrive to try and get him upstairs.”
Howell spoke with some of the workers who were on duty that day in the noisy baggage area, who recalled hearing what they thought was a cat screaming. Once they saw the child, they raced to his aid, the video shows.
“It was quite a moment that really brought perspective to life and how important life is,” one of the TSA workers, Christopher Strickland, told ABC's Good Morning America .
The child's hand was fractured, but he's otherwise OK, authorities said.
“I'm thankful he's alive,” Vega told WSB-TV . “That's all that goes through my mind. I'm just grateful he's here.”