Good Samaritans use sledgehammer to rescue baby left in hot car at Kohl's

HOWELL TOWNSHIP, N.J. -- Quick-thinking Good Samaritans came to the rescue of a baby left inside a hot car in New Jersey.

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Sara Mazzone went to Kohl's to buy a few t-shirts, but wound up saving a baby's life.

"I hear some faint crying," Mazzone said.

It was just after noon Monday, a hot summer day, when she followed the sound in the Howell Township parking lot and found a 4-month-old girl strapped into a car seat, under a blanket, in a locked car with the windows rolled up tight.

"And I started to panic," Mazzone said.

She got the attention of Steve Eckel.

"She said, 'Oh my God,' so when I turned to see what 'Oh my God' was," Eckel said.

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"I said, 'There's a baby locked in the car, we need to get help right away,'" Mazzone said.

"It was screaming, hands were out sweating," Eckel said.

"Breathing quickly, hyperventilating, and clearly in distress," Mazzone said.

"And then I remembered I had a sledgehammer. I bashed the window," Eckel said.

"Took all of her clothes off and cooled her down," Mazzone said.

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"I think of my kids in the car, I have a 1-year-old daughter, I think about her crying in the heat and suffering, possibly dying, it's shocking, shocking to your conscience," said Det. Sgt. Christian Antunez, Howell Township Police Department.

By the time police responded, the two Good Samaritans had carried the baby into the air conditioned store. That's when the mother, 33-year-old Karen Gruen, finally emerged, after 40 minutes inside.

"She walked up and the cops didn't say anything, and all of a sudden said, 'Where's my baby?'" Eckel said.

Cops charged her with endangering the welfare of a child. They called her husband, who took the baby back home to Lakewood.

"I'm glad the baby was OK, that's really what's important," Mazzone said.

She might not be alive if not for two strangers who became heroes.
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