A four-year-old girl slipped out the backdoor of the family’s Tacony home, wearing a purple raincoat, at 3 a.m. She made her way down Torresdale Avenue, and when Harlan Jenifer dropped off a passenger at Magee Avenue, a man standing in the pouring rain asked him to wait.
Aboard his SEPTA Route 56 bus, Jenifer listened to the man. Moments later, the girl walked onto the bus.
According to Jenifer, the girl said, "All I want is a Slushie," over and over.
Caught on surveillance, the girl seemed quite comfortable as she walked around the warm bus, swinging her tiny legs after she sat.
"It was too funny," Jenifer later said at SEPTA headquarters. "I was scared for her, but it was funny. She was in good hands."
According to police, no charges were filed against the family, who were unaware of the girl’s night activities. Officers who inspected the home found nothing unusual.
Police stated that the girl had woken up just hours after being put to bed, and tried to walk out the front door, which was locked. She then headed out the back as her mother slept.
52-year-old Jenifer was praised for his actions, as he halted his route for over 20 minutes as they waited for police to arrive. A few passengers on the bus talked with the girl.
Jenifer stated that he was grateful he met the girl before any harm came to her. He is a father of three children, and was worried about the girl's wellbeing.
Jenifer works the midnight-to-9 a.m. shift, and says that he’s seen plenty of "weirdos" on Route 56, but the girl was a surprise.
"Where's her mom? I'm like, 'Oh, God, what's going on here?' It was shocking, more or less. She was drenching wet. She was trembling," he recalled.
He called his supervisors, and police arrived at 3:20 a.m. They took the girl to St. Christopher's Hospital, where she was met by her mother.
"She was in good spirits," Jenifer said. "It was like she knew where she was going."
She did, as she was heading to a 7-11, open 24 hours a day, just three blocks up Torresdale Avenue.
Sources: The Philadelphia Inquirer