Youngster has a hand in trouble; Severn School pupil is caught in soda machine; Stuck for 90 minutes; No serious injury; hydraulic tools used to free 11-year-old


An 11-year-old Severn School pupil learned a hard lesson yesterday about what happens when one's reach exceeds his grasp: His right arm got caught in a soda machine.

Garrett Nicholson of Gambrills was stuck for 90 minutes before Anne Arundel County EMS/Fire/Rescue workers could free him from the delivery chute of the machine, which had to be cut apart.

He got a ride in a state police helicopter to Union Memorial Hospital in Baltimore and was given three free bottles of the Gatorade he had been after when the mishap occurred about 3 p.m.

"They put me on the stretcher and then flew me away; it was awesome," said Garrett, who was taken to a specialty center for hand injuries as a precaution.

The sixth-grader was treated and released -- and home in time for dinner.

Garrett's adventure started after physical education class when he reached up the machine. He said last night that a friend had put money in to buy a bottle of Gatorade but did not receive the beverage. Garrett said he managed to get that bottle out of the machine.

Garrett then decided to "experiment" and stuck his arm up the machine again. "I was seeing how something could get stuck," he said.

His fingers were caught in the rollers that dispense the plastic bottles.

A teacher found him trapped -- his right arm devoured by the machine. She called police and Garrett's mother.

"He was just being a curious boy," said his mother, Suzanne Nicholson. "It is pretty strange."

The emergency crew used hydraulic tools to open the machine and metal cutters to extricate Garrett. He was covered with a white sheet as rescuers sawed away.

Garrett's brother, Sean, an eighth-grader at the private school in Severna Park, was informed by the principal of his little brother's plight.

"I was worried about him at first," said Sean. "And then the helicopter came, but the principal said he was OK."

Garrett's liberators plucked out bottles of Gatorade and gave them to him as a souvenir, Garrett said, adding: "I don't think I am in any trouble."

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