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Monday, 2 December, 2002, 11:41 GMT
Toddler is 'human immobiliser'
Car keys
Car keys - or a tasty snack, if you're a toddler
A mother left stranded after her one-year-old son ate a vital component of her car key managed to start the vehicle by holding him over the wheel.

A quick-thinking RAC patrolman suggested the ingenious solution after working out that toddler Oscar Webster had swallowed a radio transponder from the key.

Unless this is close to the steering column when the driver attempts to start the car, nothing will happen.

The tiny part, which was only the size of an aspirin, managed to make contact with the car's immobiliser - even though it was passing through the tot's stomach at the time.

It has since re-emerged with no harm done to Oscar.

Stomach signals

His mother Amanda called in the RAC when the car failed to start two weeks ago.

The first thought of patrolman Keith Scott, from Milton Keynes, was a flat battery, but that was quickly ruled out.


It is easily the most bizarre callout I've ever been to

Keith Scott, RAC patrolman
He told BBC News Online: "Then his mum remembered that Oscar had been sucking at the keys, and when we looked at them, the cover over the transmitter was off and the transmitter wasn't there.

"It dawned on us that Oscar had probably swallowed it."

Without the transponder, the pair were going nowhere, but Keith came up with an ingenious solution.

Working on the principle that that the transponder would valiantly continue to transpond - regardless of its environment - he put Oscar as close to the wheel as possible.

"His mum sat in the driver's seat, and put him on her lap with his tummy pressed up against the wheel.

"We were amazed when she turned the key and the car burst into life."

He added: "He was obviously still fascinated by the keys - he kept grabbing at them even then."

With the car started, the toddler could be returned to his seat and the journey completed.

Keith said: "It is easily the most bizarre callout I've ever been to."

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25 Dec 99 | Health
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