On July 18, Sarah Oropeza was ringing up a customer at the Famous Footwear store she manages in Merriam, Kansas, when her co-worker ran into the store screaming for help (video below).
The employee had reportedly seen a 2-year-old girl locked in a car and couldn’t reach the toddler. The temperature in Kansas City that day reportedly felt like 110 degrees.
"The windows were totally rolled up, all the doors were locked," Oropeza told KCTV. "[The little girl] 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 searched through her employee's trunk, hoping she’d find something that would help her rescue the child. She tried a screwdriver and a tire iron before a bystander offered up a truck hitch, which was thrown at the window, cracking it.
"I was just praying: 'Break the window. She is going to die,'" Oropeza said.
Several bystanders came over to help, including a nurse who tended to the child until an ambulance arrived. Paramedics looked over the girl, who was later picked up by her grandmother.
The girl was apparently left in the car by her aunt and uncle, who allegedly later approached Oropeza and asked for their niece back. "No emotion at all, whatsoever," Oropeza said of the couple. "The only question they had for police was if insurance was going to pay to cover the window that we broke."
The couple was ticketed for child endangerment.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration notes children can quickly suffer from heat stroke and possibly die when they’re left in a car unattended, no matter how briefly.