It takes a master thief or a locksmith to break into a safe, but it takes only Anthony Curry, 14, to break out of one.
Anthony, who just finished the eighth grade, spent more than an hour trapped in a walk-in safe at a friend's house on Grand Island on Tuesday.
When the safe's owners couldn't open the lock, and the emergency release handle inside didn't work, Anthony had to rely on his wits and instructions from firefighters to get out.
"It is remarkable that the kid was calm enough to do what he was told to do. He had to be really levelheaded," said Raymond W. Pauley, the Grand Island Fire Department's public information officer.
Anthony's ordeal began Tuesday afternoon when he went to a friend's house on Whitetail Run to play table tennis.
The five teenagers there began to fool around with a large walk-in safe in the basement, walking inside and closing the door behind them.
Anthony, who lives on Woodstream Drive on Grand Island, went into the safe with a friend. When he tried to leave, two teens pushed him in and quickly closed the steel door.
"We all heard this big kerplunk. Then I said, 'Guys, let me out,' and they said, 'We can't,' " Anthony said.
The teen was shut inside the large safe, which measures about 7 feet wide and 7 feet high. Anthony struggled with the emergency release handle, to no avail.
There was luggage in the safe, a light that Anthony turned on, and a slit underneath the door that allowed air in.
"I tried not to panic, because I've seen shows where people got stuck, and that made it worse," Anthony said.
His friends called the owner of the house, who arrived but found the door's lock was jammed.
The owner called Anthony's parents, who then called 911.
Firefighters called in a locksmith and reached engineers at the Fort Knox safe company, who passed on instructions on opening the safe from the inside.
Anthony used a screwdriver and an
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Allen wrench, passed under the door, to loosen a panel on the back of the door and try to move about 20 bolts that controlled the lock.
By 6 p.m. Tuesday, he had been in the safe for more than an hour but was making little progress.
"I kept asking (the firefighters), 'You're sure he has enough oxygen? Does he have enough oxygen?' " Joyce Curry, Anthony's mother, said Wednesday.
"I was really trying to stay calm. And my husband kept looking at me, and I said, 'I can't believe this is happening,' " she said.
With Deputy Fire Chief Peter A. McMahon relaying instructions from Fort Knox engineers, Anthony grabbed a pole that was connected to the bolts and strained to pull it.
Finally, the pole moved, the bolts snapped into place, and the door swung open.
Anthony said the only time he was worried Tuesday was when the safe first closed and his friends couldn't get him out.