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Woman smashes window to rescue toddler locked in hot car

"Never in my life would I ever imagine seeing a child drenched in sweat locked in a car," Sarah Oropeza said. "Never in my life would I ever imagine seeing a child drenched in sweat locked in a car," Sarah Oropeza said.
MERRIAM, KS (KCTV) -

A KCK woman grabbed whatever she could find to break a window and save a toddler trapped in a sweltering car.

"That's the best part of this story," said Johnson County District Attorney Steve Howe. "Kudos to that young lady for doing that and helping a child out."

Investigators said the windows were shut and there was no parent or guardian in sight. A couple left the toddler locked inside the vehicle while they shopped, and Howe is weighing filing charges against them.

The child's father, who wasn't involved in his daughter being locked in the car, is extremely grateful to her rescuers and said his daughter thankfully is doing fine. His cousin and his sister left the child in the car. The cousin said he feels like a "monster." Click here to see what he told KCTV5 on Tuesday.

Howe filed felony child endangerment against the brother and sister on Wednesday as the frantic 911 call was released. Click here to read that story.

The scary ordeal unfolded about 4:15 p.m. Saturday, as temperatures in Kansas City felt like 110 degrees.

Sarah Oropeza, the manager at Famous Footwear, 5824 Antioch Rd., in Merriam., was ringing up a customer when one of her teen employees, who was leaving late because she stayed to help out, came sprinting into the store.

High schooler Porscha Bland, 16, alerted Oropeza by screaming for help.

"The windows were totally rolled up, all the doors were locked. She was covered in sweat. When I looked in the back window, she was covered in sweat. She had pulled her hair back and sweat was just dripping" Oropeza said.

Oropeza said Bland opened her trunk to try to find something to break the driver’s side window to get to the 2-year-old girl, but the window didn’t crack.They tried to break the window with a chair, but were unsuccessful.

"I'm screaming, "There is a baby in the car! There is a baby in the car! Somebody help!'" Oropeza recalled.

Bland frantically called 911. She also waved her arms and yelled for help from those passing by in the area. Click here to hear the 911 call and read a transcript.

Bland's efforts attracted the attention of another woman. Oropeza said that woman came with a screw driver to see if that could help, but again, not a crack.

However, Oropeza was not giving up, as she began whacking the window with a tire iron. Every hit at the window felt like an eternity for the mother of two.

She got it to crack when another woman came up with a truck hitch that was thrown at the window.

"I was just praying, 'Break the window. She is going to die,'" Oropeza said.

The entire ordeal only lasted about three minutes, but Oropeza said it felt like eternity. She believes the toddler may have been in the dangerously hot car for up to 10 minutes while the couple who drove her there were at a nearby cell phone store.

Oropeza said at least four women stepped up to try and help her get to the toddler drenched with sweat and crying in the hot car.

"She was crying, and she was drenched in sweat, like her shoes were wet, her socks were wet. She was so drenched in sweat. I just started crying," Oropeza said.

A nurse was also on scene and gave the child medical attention until an ambulance arrived. A police officer bought diapers for the toddler, because there was no diaper bag in the car. Paramedics checked the girl's vitals and was later picked up by her godmother who has spoken to her goddaughter's rescuers to thank them.

Oropeza's tears turned to anger when the brother and sister, claiming the toddler was their niece, came in the shoe store and asked to get her back.

"No emotion at all, whatsoever. The only question they had for police was if insurance was going to pay to cover the window that we broke," Oropeza said.

They have denied saying this.

Oropeza and an officer told the couple to leave the store. Police ticketed the couple for child endangerment. Howe has since decided to upgrade the municipal charges to felony charges. Read more here.

"We take these matters very seriously," Howe said. "We know how hot it was in Kansas City this weekend. There really is no kind of excuse for that kind of conduct."

Merriam police were also called out Sunday afternoon to the south parking garage of Ikea where two children under 10 were left in a car. Police say the windows were down, but the parents were ticketed as well.

Child care experts say in most cases where it is accidental, parents are so busy and distracted they forget their child is in the backseat. However, they also see kids die because they were playing in cars that were left unlocked.

Keep in mind, leaving a child in the car for even a few minutes could be a deadly decision. In just 10 minutes, the temperature inside a vehicle can soar 20 degrees. And on days like Saturday, you're talking about triple digits before you've barely even walked away from that car.

Nationally, 10 children have died in hot cars in the United States. There is a tool that you can put on a key chain that will help you pop up a window easily. Click here for more details.

Copyright 2015 KCTV (Meredith Corp.) All rights reserved.

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    A Kansas City area man said he feels like a monster after he and his sister left their toddler cousin locked inside a hot car. He said he is glad she's OK and he is working to be a better person after the experience.More >>
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