Broward County

Practical ‘joke’ gone wrong: Teenager trapped for three hours in abandoned bank vault

In this photo taken on Aug. 15, 2014, Michael Peoples walks into a bank vault in the basement of The Morton, a 90-year-old hotel building in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
In this photo taken on Aug. 15, 2014, Michael Peoples walks into a bank vault in the basement of The Morton, a 90-year-old hotel building in Grand Rapids, Michigan. AP/The Grand Rapids Press

A teenager was rescued from a bank vault inside an abandoned Bank of America branch in Hollywood after an apparent practical joke went awry on Wednesday, police say.

The 17-year-old, whose name was not released, was trapped inside the vault at 5974 Dewey St. for about three hours before fire officials and police officers were able to retrieve the vault code from administrative staff at a nearby branch.

Miami Herald news partner CBS 4 reports that Hollywood Fire Rescue then contacted the vault maker, which sent employees to the scene.

The teen and his friend, who is also a juvenile, trespassed at the property Wednesday afternoon, and the teen was trapped inside the vault after his friend closed the door behind him, said Officer Christian Lata of Hollywood Police.

“One of them decided to, I guess, play a joke on the other one,” Lata said.

The vault is not air-tight, so the teen could breathe, Lata said. After realizing what he had done, his friend used his cellphone to call for help around 1:30 p.m. Hollywood Fire Rescue called in a tactical team from the Broward Sheriff’s Office Fire Rescue to try to open the vault with power tools and other extraction equipment, but the door wouldn’t budge.

First responders were able to get the vault code from a Bank of America branch across the street, Lata said, and released the teen to his worried family around 4:30 p.m.

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