The 4-year-old grabbed her purple rain coat, slipped out the back door of her family's Tacony home, and wandered along Torresdale Avenue.

It was 3 a.m. Friday, and she was thirsty.

Harlan Jenifer stopped his SEPTA Route 56 bus at Magee Avenue to let out a passenger. A man standing outside in the heavy rain told the driver he had better wait.

The girl, all alone, clambered onto the bus.

"All I want is a Slushie," Jenifer heard her say, over and over. Surveillance video showed the girl, quite comfortable, as she roamed the warm bus, swinging her tiny legs when she sat.

"It was too funny," Jenifer said later Friday at SEPTA headquarters. "I was scared for her, but it was funny. She was in good hands."

Police said no charges were filed against the girl's family, which was unaware of her snack trek. Officers inspected the home and found no unusual conditions.

According to police, the girl had gotten up, hours after being put to bed, tried the front door, which was locked, then headed out the back as her mother slept.

Jenifer, 52, was hailed for his good deed. He halted his route for more than 20 minutes until police arrived. A few passengers inside the bus made small talk with the girl.

Jenifer said he was grateful he stumbled upon the girl before any harm came to her. As the father of three children, he worried about the girl's well-being.

Jenifer, who works the midnight-to-9 a.m. shift, said he sees plenty of "weirdos" on Route 56, but this was a new brand of surprise.

"Where's her mom?" Jenifer said he wondered. "I'm like, 'Oh, God, what's going on here?' It was shocking, more or less. She was drenching wet. She was trembling."

After he called his supervisors, police arrived at 3:20 a.m. and took the girl to St. Christopher's Hospital, where her mother met her.

"She was in good spirits," Jenifer said of the girl, whose name was not released. "It was like she knew where she was going."

She did. A 7-11, open 24 hours a day, was just three blocks up Torresdale Avenue.

mgelb@philly.com

215-854-2928 @MattGelb