HOWELL TOWNSHIP - Two good Samaritans are being hailed as heroes for rescuing a baby that was left inside a hot car.
Howell Township police say that they received a call about a baby left unattended in a locked car in the Kohl’s parking lot on Route 9 Monday afternoon. When they arrived they found the front passenger window of the car shattered and the car empty.
Police eventually discovered that two people who saw the baby inside the car took action. Police say that Steve Eckel, 53, of Jackson, and Sarah Mazzone, 30, of Howell, noticed the baby inside the car. They told police that the baby was bright red, sweating profusely and crying. The baby was also fully clothed and was partially covered with a blanket.
Police say that Eckel used a sledgehammer from his car to break the window and unlock the car. Eckel and Mazzone then apparently took the baby inside the Kohl’s vestibule where there was air conditioning, and called police.
According to police, while the officers were investigating the incident, the infant’s mother, Karen Gruen, 33 of Lakewood, came out to the car and started to panic when she saw that the window was broken. The officers told Gruen that the baby was inside the Kohl’s. She was arrested and charged with endangering the welfare of a child.
Howell First Aid was called to check on the baby, who was determined to be OK. The baby was turned over to the custody of her father, who declined any further medical treatment for the baby. The baby appeared to be doing much better after being fed and cooled down, according to police.
Howell Police Chief Andrew Kudrick commended Eckel and Mazzone and said that they “truly saved a life.”
Police were able to determine that the baby was left inside the car for about 40 minutes, according to surveillance cameras.
News 12 New Jersey Meteorologist Dave Curren says temperatures in Howell reached 91 degrees Monday. He says that after 30 minutes temperatures inside a locked car typically reach 124 degrees.