A Bergen County Sheriff's officer rescued a wailing, sweat-soaked toddler from inside a locked minivan parked at a Costco in New Jersey on a sweltering afternoon Thursday.
Concerned passersby in the parking lot at the Hackensack Costco began gathering around the minivan, and at least two tried to push down a window, which was already cracked a few inches, cellphone video shows. The child's cries can be heard from inside the car.
One of the men seen trying to get in through the window, Rafael Rodriguez, recounted to NBC 4 New York, "I'm telling the [kid], 'Don't cry, we're gonna get you out.' The boy was drenched in sweat and crying constantly."
Police officers begin to arrive and one smashes the window on the rear right side, pulls open the sliding door, and another goes into the car to retrieve the child.
"Where are the parents?" asked one bystander.
"I think shopping," another says.
"Are you...kidding me?" he responds.
As the officer emerges from the minivan with a small, crying boy in her arms, the bystanders are stunned.
"Oh, my God," says the woman taping the scene.
The distressed child cries in the arms of the officer, who rubs his back and says he's "soaking wet." The boy's hair appears to be matted to her forehead with sweat.
"Sweat was just coming down, almost as if someone threw a bucket of water on [him], that's how bad it was," said Rodriguez.
Seconds later, the boy's mother arrives at the vehicle with a loaded shopping cart and another child. The officer holding the boy scolds the mother: "You left [him] in the car!"
The mother says "sorry, sorry," and the officer responds, "No 'Sorry!' [He] could have died!"
It's unclear how long the 2-year-old boy was inside the locked car. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says the temperature inside a car, even with the windows open, can jump about 20 degrees in 10 minutes.
An officer estimated it was at least 80 degrees inside the van, according to Bergen County Sheriff's Office. Temperatures outside hit 90 degrees, though, according to meteorologists.
Rodriguez said it was clear the mother was gone for awhile.
"I thought maybe she forgot something that she was gonna grab. I was surprised to see the shopping cart was full," he said.
The boy was taken to Hackensack University Medical Center and turned over to his father, the sheriff's office said.
Police arrested the mother for child endangerment and released her with a desk ticket.
*EDITOR'S NOTE: Authorities initially said the child was a girl, but they clarified Friday the child was a boy.