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Video: Boy gets stuck in washing machine

TODAY contributor
updated 2/8/2008 11:28:10 AM ET 2008-02-08T16:28:10

Blissfully unaware of what all the fuss was about and utterly unimpressed that he was on national TV, 4-year-old Doniven Hasseman blew raspberries while his parents talked about how he had put them through the wringer.

Doniven seemed quite pleased with his contribution to the conversation with TODAY’s Al Roker. That little thing with the washing machine and the crowbar and the firemen and the “Jaws of Life” and the ride to the hospital was already ancient history. Heck, it happened way back on Sunday, an aeon to one of his tender years.

His father, Dwane, a forklift operator in Dover, Ohio, was on his way home from the store, where he was picking up food for a Super Bowl party just before the big game was set to start on Sunday evening, when he got one of those calls from his wife, Jennifer, that become the stuff of family legend.

Doniven was stuck in the washing machine and neither Jennifer Hasseman nor her sister, who was there with her family to watch the game, could get him out. He liked to get his clothes out of the wash, and he had apparently climbed up on the machine to do that and had fallen in. His brother, Damean, 11, was the first to assess the situation and felt it best to pass the information on to his mother.

Jennifer Hasseman’s first impulse was to tell her son to quit messing around and get out of the top-loading machine’s tub. When that didn’t work, she tried to help him out, but he was wedged between the tub wall and the center agitator.

By the time Dwane Hasseman got home, the women had removed the top of the machine and had resorted to a crowbar to try to pry the agitator loose. His 8-year-old sister, Dezire, couldn’t help, but she did volunteer that “I was very scared.”

“I took off down the basement,” Dwane Hasseman said, and assessed the situation: “It was like, ‘Wow, we gotta call somebody.’ ”

Doniven was getting panicky by then and was begging for somebody to get him out. Help arrived after a 911 call in the form of the local fire department, which used the “Jaws of Life” tool usually used to cut victims out of wrecked cars, to chew a big chunk out of the washing machine.

While they worked, a fireman gave Doniven a teddy bear to calm him, and on the way to the hospital to be checked out — he suffered no injuries — he and the firemen named it “Agitator.”

His father said that when the firemen finally freed Doniven after about 45 minutes, he scampered out like a spider monkey.

That was Sunday. Now, already put through the wringer by their son’s adventure, the Hassemans have moved on to the spin cycle, retelling their story to media outlets and on Friday getting to visit New York and talk with Roker.

The family didn’t have the funds to buy a new washing machine immediately — Jennifer Hasseman wants one with a locking lid and no agitator — and are renting a machine.

Doniven never did say anything, but when Roker asked him if he’s ever going to do that again, he shook his head emphatically “no.”

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