A Kansas woman is being hailed as a hero after smashing a car window with a tire iron on Saturday to free a toddler who had been locked inside alone in the sweltering heat.
Sarah Oropeza was ringing up a customer at a Famous Footwear store in Merriam, outside Kansas City, when an employee alerted her that there was a child alone in a car in the parking lot, KCTV reports.
“She was covered in sweat, Oropeza told ABC of the 2-year-old girl. “Her ponytail was dripping sweat off of it.”
Oropeza recalled screaming “There’s a baby in the car!” as a small crowd gathered and attempted to help free the sweat-drenched child.
The woman said the child cried and screamed as several people unsuccessfully tried to rescue her using a chair and a screwdriver.
“I was thinking …what if she dies?” Oropeza told ABC. “What if we can’t get her out?”
A video of the incident shows Oropeza, a mother of two, pounding one of the car’s windows with the tire iron. She eventually managed to smash the window and free the child, according to KCTV. The incident lasted less than four minutes, but Oropeza told the station that it felt like an eternity.
Police say the outside temperature was 91º with a heat index of 101º that day.
The child was crying and extremely sweaty when officers arrived, police say. The girl was checked by medical personnel and turned over to her godmother.
Authorities say two adults who were watching the child told them the toddler was only alone for four minutes.
The two were ticketed for child endangerment and the case will be reviewed by the Johnson County District Attorney s Office.
The incident has garnered national attention with the video viewed on Facebook more than 10,000 times.