Trapped with toddlers: Kennewick mom gets stuck in park bathroom

KENNEWICK, Wash. -- A Kennewick mom got quite a scare on Monday. She was trapped in a bathroom in Columbia Park for more than two hours. She had no phone -- two toddlers beside her -- and no one seemed to hear her cries for help.

Jennifer Ayala was at Columbia Park with her two sons when one of them needed to use the restroom. It was routine, she didn't think much of it when they walked inside.

"My five year old closed the door," said Ayala. "He's five; out of habit he closes the door when you use the restroom." Normally it wouldn't be a problem, but when Jennifer and her sons tried to leave, they couldn't.

"I can't open it, it's stuck," she remembered. The door to the bathroom wouldn't budge. "I thought did someone lock us in here," she said, reminding herself, "no, that's just crazy."

Within minutes, Jennifer Ayala was trying everything.

"I tried to open it with my son's shoe and that doesn't work," she said. "I wave his shirt as a flag out the door, but no one can see itI climbed up on the stall, there's a window grate there, and I just start to yell."

Still there was no answer from passing cars or joggers, they simply could not hear her. "I went back to the door, put my fingers under the door, put my leg up for leverage, but the harder I seemed to pull it, it would bend the door more than open it."

Without a door knob, there shouldn't be a way to lock the steel-sided door, unless it gets caught. "It had gotten stuck with this part of the door," she motioned. She showed off the recently removed strike plate that a normal door has. It seems the faulty plate acted as a wedge, closing the family off.

With her cell phone in the car, Jennifer's only hope would be getting someone's attention. "I finally just started screaming at the top of my lungs when anyone drove by in a car or jogged by," she said.

Two hours had gone by when her two young boys started to pray. All of a sudden, Jennifer heard a bang.

"I jumped down and I said, 'is someone out there?' and she asked, 'is someone in there with you?' and I said, 'no, just me and my kids and dog. we're all in here and we need to get out,'" she explained.

Their prayers had been answered, or so she thought.

"She was kicking on the door and then she started to walk away and I looked out the door knob hole and I'm like, 'please don't go.' I was pleading with her please don't leave us," she said.

The woman left, but came back with a man. "He could hear there was a little boy inside and the next kick took the door in," she said.

Jennifer said she gave her rescuer a huge hug and a tear-filled thank you, but she never got their names.

"They have no idea how thankful I am as a mom," she said. "I felt so helpless at that moment with my kids stuck and I didn't have a way to get them out."

Upon hearing Jennifer's story, the City of Kennewick fixed the door.

Jennifer still hopes to meet the two people who rescued her family from the bathroom. If you know the person, or are the person, contact KEPR at 509-539-KEPR or

We will put you in touch with the family.