Sheriff credits man for saving baby in Walmart lot

Photo courtesy of Beth Raiber

SPRINGVILLE, N.Y. (WIVB) – A 1-year-old girl was locked in a car for around a half hour on Sunday, when deputies say estimates indicate the temperature inside the vehicle could have reached 109 degrees.

An employee at the Walmart store in Springville saw the little girl inside the vehicle Sunday afternoon and immediately went into the store to call authorities. But before deputies could arrive, a customer broke a window out of the car and removed the baby.

The Erie County Sheriff’s Office arrived around 4:30 p.m. and deputies found that cameras showed the child had been in the vehicle for around 30 minutes. According to authorities, the temperature outside was 75 degrees. Deputies say information indicates the temperature inside the vehicle could have reached 109 degrees.

“I just don’t understand how that could even happen,” said Beth Raiber, who arrived at Walmart to see paramedics giving the 1-year old water at the store entrance. “Obviously hot, face was beet red, you could tell she’d been crying and her whole hair was just soaking wet with sweat.”

Captain Ron Kenyon of the Erie County Sheriff’s Office says the baby’s mother eventually came out of the store and realized on her own what she had done.

“She was quite upset. She stated she was doing a lot of errands and she had forgotten the child was in the car and had gone into the store and left the child in the car,” said Kenyon.

The mother, 32-year-old Jessica Hojnacki of Gowanda, is charged with endangering the welfare of a child, a misdemeanor. Cattaraugus County Child Protective Services is now investigating.

Captain Kenyon credits the man who broke the car window himself.

“A lot of people might not have done that or been reluctant to do it and he wasn’t. He took the hammer, broke the window, opened the car up and possibly saved the baby’s life.”

EMS technicians found the little girl was okay. Deputies say it wouldn’t have been long before the baby could have been seriously injured, or worse, from the heat. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review. Note: Comments containing links are not allowed.

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