There’s just no excuse for it—purposely leaving a child in a hot car means that you’re knowingly putting that child at risk for heatstroke or death.
Being able to recognize the dangers of a hot car, Steve Eckel is now being called a hero after his visit to a Kohl’s Department store actually saved an infant’s life.
The Howell, New Jersey, resident and retired cop was on his way into the store when he noticed a baby crying inside a car parked in the lot.
Steve approached the vehicle to find a 4-month-old infant, dressed in a pink onesie and sweating profusely. She was beet red, shaking and her eyes were beginning to roll back. Steve knew he only had seconds to act fast.
The father of six darted back to his car to get something out of his trunk that would help him break in and rescue the baby from the climbing heat—it was 120 degrees inside the vehicle.
Research suggests that a car parked on a sunny day in 70 degree weather will rise to 104 degrees inside the vehicle within 30 minutes, and 113 degrees after an hour. When outdoor temperatures are higher—in the 80 to 100 degree range, temperatures inside the vehicle can rapidly climb to anywhere between 130 and 172 degrees in a short amount of time.
Having just cleaned out his trunk, there weren’t too many options to assist with Steve’s break-in. But it’s no coincidence that the only thing he didn’t remove in the clean sweep was his sledgehammer.
“I do believe in guardian angels, and I believe I’m the one for this child,” Steve told local news.
He raced back to the infant and shattered the front window to get to the baby, before calling police.
Authorities believe the baby’s mother was shopping inside of the Kohl’s for at least 40 minutes. When she returned to her vehicle, she started to panic.
The 33-year-old mother was arrested and charged with endangering the welfare of a child.
Steve says he hopes the mother learns that “you just don’t do this.” Beyond that though, Steve is just happy that this story ends with a healthy baby—who is still alive because of his actions.
According to noheatstroke.org, 714 children left in hot vehicles have died since 1998. That’s an average of 37 preventable deaths every year. Share Steve’s story and spread awareness about the dangers of kids and hot cars.