Harlan Jenifer, a Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) bus driver in Philadelphia, pulled over around 3 a.m. to allow a passenger off. When the doors opened, a 4-year-old girl in a purple raincoat and boots climbed aboard by herself. The bizarre scene was recorded on a surveillance camera when she took a seat on the warm bus, then sat, swinging her small feet beneath her as if she didn’t have a care in the world.
“Got to be kidding me! At this time, at 3 o’clock in the morning,” Harlan said, describing the story with astonishment. She’s a little little thing. It just sort of startled him, he continued. Apparently, the small girl, whose name he later discovered was Annabelle, was thirsty. As Harlan dialed 911 and other passengers consoled her, she uttered the same plea over and over.
All she wants is a Slushie, she exclaimed. According to Harlan, Annabelle told everybody on the bus many times. She was also determined. Annabelle snuck out the back door of her family’s house in her pajamas and walked five streets in the rain before boarding the bus, expecting to be dumped off at a convenience shop where she could have a Slushie.
Where is her mother? Harlan expressed his curiosity. He is thinking to himself, ‘Oh, God, what’s going on here?’ It was, to put it mildly, stunning. She was completely soaked. She was shivering, he continued, although he later discovered amusement in the odd occurrence. It was too hilarious, Harlan later said. He was frightened for her, but it was hilarious. She was in safe hands.
Fortunately, the 52-year-old bus driver and father-of-three noticed Annabelle and phoned the police before she was hurt. Harlan, who works the night shift, said he sees lots of “nutcases” on his route and is pleased Annabelle crossed his way rather than someone else’s. Harlan, who has now been acclaimed a hero, paused his route for more than 20 minutes as people on the bus made small chat with the youngster.
She was in a wonderful mood, Harlan added. She seemed to know where she was heading. And maybe she did, because a 7-11 operating 24 hours a day was only three blocks away. But for Annabelle, it was not to be her fate. Rather, she was taken to St. Christopher’s Hospital by cops, where she was reconnected with her mom, Jaclyn Mager.
Following an inspection of the residence, authorities stated that no charges will be made against the girl’s parents. Authorities established that Annabell had gotten out of bed as her mom slept. She is said to have attempted the front door first, which was locked. Undaunted, she went to the back door and slipped away without awakening her mom.
Despite the fact that this was Annabelle’s first solo outing, her parents are adamant that it will be her last, and have now modified their door locks. During an interview with the local press, Annabelle interrupted, Mom, can she take her to Wawa and get her a slushie? Jaclyn obliged, but she made her daughter swear to be patient this time.
Although the family can now joke about it, Annabelle’s father, Timothy Ridgeway, admits that it’s easy to envision how things could have gone differently. His mind is trying to go somewhere, it’s difficult not to, the anxious father explained. Thank God for the bus driver, he continued, echoing Jaclyn’s comments. There are no words to express how grateful he is to him for saving his daughter’s life, she added. He’ll be eternally thankful.
While some may criticize Annabelle’s parents, they have done an excellent job parenting their kid. She is obviously self-sufficient. She can dress herself, choose proper clothing for the weather, and even find the bus stop. She’s a really outstanding four-year-old who will certainly grow up to be a successful young lady. However, Annabelle’s journey serves as a crucial reminder.
Kids are determined, astute, and self-assured. They are not easily discouraged from their purpose when they desire something. They are typically brave, fearing nothing in a frightening world. And, when you least expect it, they will shock you by doing something you never believed they could. In most circumstances, this is a good thing. It is risky.
We must remember to reassess our home’s childproofing as our kids get older. If it is insufficient, it is preferable to recognize it before we are woken by a knock at the door from the cops, who located our child before we even recognized they were absent. Don’t assume your youngster won’t or can’t do it. They can, and will, as far too many of us have discovered the hard way. Simply ask Annabelle.