12-year-old Okla. boy, mother break windshield to save toddler locked in hot car

TULSA, Okla. (KOKI/CNN) - What started as a shopping trip for new school shoes for a 12-year-old Oklahoma boy and his mother turned into a rescue when they noticed a 2-year-old boy crying in a locked car.

Ben Therist, 12, says he was headed into a Tulsa, Okla., store last Monday afternoon when his mother, Nikki Fields, heard a toddler crying. The 2-year-old boy was in the backseat of a nearby locked car.

“I got on the phone. I yelled for him to find anything in my car,” Fields said.

Ben Therist, 12, and his mother, Nikki Fields, rescued a toddler from a hot car in a Tulsa, Okla., parking lot.
Ben Therist, 12, and his mother, Nikki Fields, rescued a toddler from a hot car in a Tulsa, Okla., parking lot. (Source: KOKI/CNN)

The 12-year-old found a ratchet strap, which is typically used to secure cargo, and started hitting the side window. When that window didn’t break, he hit the front windshield instead, cracking it.

“I swung it over my shoulder, hit it right in the center,” Ben said.

A store employee then brought out part of a clothing rack, and Ben used it to break the windshield until there was a large enough hole for him to crawl inside and unlock the car door.

“The heat index at the time that child was locked in this car… was 116 degrees,” said Officer Jeanne Pierce with the Tulsa Police Department.

Police say the rescued toddler was red-faced and in a bit of distress but otherwise OK. He was checked out by paramedics at the scene and did not have to go to the hospital.

Ben and his mom say they are glad the 2-year-old was not hurt.

“I’m just very proud of him. I’m glad that he knew what to do,” said Fields of her son.

Police located the toddler’s mother inside the store. She told them that this was an accident, and she thought there was another adult in the vehicle when she got out.

Officers questioned that, asking if that were the case, why she would shut the car off and lock it. They say they still aren’t exactly sure what happened.

The mother was ticketed $250 under Oklahoma’s “Forget Me Not” law, which states any child under the age of 6 should not be left alone in a motor vehicle in various conditions, including extreme weather.

Officers say she was not arrested for child neglect because the boy was OK and because this was her first offense.

The child remains with his mother, but there will be a Department of Human Services investigation.

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