Sun. Jun 23rd, 2024

There have been many stories in the news lately about parents leaving their children in dangerously hot cars, yet people can’t seem to learn just how bad this really is. Thankfully, there are some heroes in this world who are willing to do whatever it takes to save children from vehicles they are left trapped in.

One of these heroes is retired Middlesex County Sherrif’s Department Sergeant Steve Eckel.

Steve was recently walking out of a Kohl’s department store in Howell Township, New Jersey when he saw something in the parking lot that made him sick. He came upon a four-month-old baby who had been left in a car with the windows up even though it was over 80 degrees outside, meaning the temperature inside the car had reached 120 degrees.

“She was sweating, crying, eyes rolling back,” Steve recalled.

Not only is Steve a former cop, he’s also a devoted father of six, so he knew he had to do something. He ran over to the vehicle as he called 911.

“I’m in front of Kohl’s…I’ve got an infant in a locked car…The baby’s crying in the car,” Steve said on the 911 call.

Grabbing a sledgehammer from his car, Steve carefully broke into the car.

“I ran around to the other side, caught the edge here, and it just shattered,” he recalled.

He immediately grabbed the baby, who was beet-red and sweating profusely, but alive.

“I almost started to cry,” he said. “I got really emotional at that point.”

Steve rushed the baby inside Kohl’s so she could cool down in the air-conditioning, which first responders say helped her recover.

Nobody knew who the child’s mother was until a woman walked out to the car, saw the smashed window and empty car seat, and panicked.
There have been many stories in the news lately about parents leaving their children in dangerously hot cars, yet people can’t seem to learn just how bad this really is. Thankfully, there are some heroes in this world who are willing to do whatever it takes to save children from vehicles they are left trapped in.

One of these heroes is retired Middlesex County Sherrif’s Department Sergeant Steve Eckel.

Steve was recently walking out of a Kohl’s department store in Howell Township, New Jersey when he saw something in the parking lot that made him sick. He came upon a four-month-old baby who had been left in a car with the windows up even though it was over 80 degrees outside, meaning the temperature inside the car had reached 120 degrees.

“She was sweating, crying, eyes rolling back,” Steve recalled.

Not only is Steve a former cop, he’s also a devoted father of six, so he knew he had to do something. He ran over to the vehicle as he called 911.

“I’m in front of Kohl’s…I’ve got an infant in a locked car…The baby’s crying in the car,” Steve said on the 911 call.

Grabbing a sledgehammer from his car, Steve carefully broke into the car.

“I ran around to the other side, caught the edge here, and it just shattered,” he recalled.

He immediately grabbed the baby, who was beet-red and sweating profusely, but alive.

“I almost started to cry,” he said. “I got really emotional at that point.”

Steve rushed the baby inside Kohl’s so she could cool down in the air-conditioning, which first responders say helped her recover.

Nobody knew who the child’s mother was until a woman walked out to the car, saw the smashed window and empty car seat, and panicked.

“Oh my God, where’s my baby?” she started crying.

“You’re the mother?” one of the responding officers asked her. “Have a seat.”

Karen Gruen, 33, has since been arrested and charged with endangering the welfare of a child. The child has since been placed in the care of her father.

“She should plead guilty and get probation and realize you just can’t do this,” Steve said, adding that he believes it was fate that he was in the parking lot that day.

“I do believe in guardian angels,” he said, “and I think I’m the one for this child.”