TACONY, PA -- A 4-year-old girl was found all alone in the middle of the night in Northeast Philadelphia, and it turns out she ventured out on her own in search of a frozen treat.
It all began around 3 a.m. Friday on Torresdale Avenue near Cottman in the Tacony neighborhood. That's where a man flagged down SEPTA's 56 bus, telling the driver about the little girl he found.
SEPTA surveillance video shows little Annabelle stepping onto the bus wearing a purple coat and snow boots.
"Got to be kidding me! At this time, at 3 o'clock on the morning," said driver Harlan Jenifer said. "She's a small little thing. It kind of just shocked me."
He called police while bus passengers comforted the child, who let them know what her early morning mission was.
"All I want is a slushie, that's all she said!" said Jenifer.
Within an hour, little Annabelle was back with her shocked parents - and they've since reconfigured their door locks.
Annabelle, however, seemed to be concerned that her slushie quest was interrupted.
"Mom, can you take me to Wawa and get me a slushie?" she asked her mother, Jaclyn Mager, while she talked to Action News later Friday.
"I will take you to Wawa and get you a slushie," Jaclyn responded. "But listen, promise me next time you'll wait for me, okay?"
"Yeah," Annabelle agreed, giving her mom a hug.
Her father, Timothy Ridgeway, says it's only too easy to imagine how differently this could have turned out.
"My mind is wanting to go places, it's hard not to," said Ridgeway. "Thank God for the bus driver."
Jaclyn said this will be Annabelle's first and last solo adventure. She repeatedly thanked all who helped bring her home safely.
"There are no words, he saved my daughter's life," she said of bus driver Harlan Jenifer.
"I'll be forever grateful."
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