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A woman and an ex-cop rescued a baby in distress outside a New Jersey Kohl’s department store.

Steve Eckel was alerted by Sarah Mazzone in the parking lot of the store in Howell, about 20 miles east of Trenton.

Mazzone told him there was a young child locked in a nearby car with its windows up.

The baby was screaming as the 90-heat outside likely drove up the temperature in the car to “well over 120 degrees,” Eckel, a former Middlesex County sheriff's officer, estimated to WCBS.

“Her eyes were rolling back," he said.

“[She] was beet red and sweating,” Mazzone told News12.

While Eckel called police, Mazzone ran into the store to get further help.

Recognizing the baby couldn’t survive too much longer in the blistering car, Eckel scoured the parking lot for a customer that had a crowbar or other blunt object to break into the car and rescue the child.

That’s when he realized he had a sledgehammer in his trunk that he was using on a side project. The ex-cop retrieved the hammer and smashed the window, pulling the baby out.

When police arrived, Eckel and Mazzone had taken the girl into the store to cool off. The mother, Karen Gruen of nearby Lakewood, panicked when she saw the broken car window and her child missing. She was arrested on child endangerment charges.

“I do believe in guardian angels, and I think I’m the one for this child,” Eckel said. “You act like a dad” in this situation, he said.


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