Child meets heroes who saved her from hot car

Child meets heroes who saved her from hot car
Source: KTRE Staff
Source: Facebook
Source: Facebook
Source: KTRE Staff
Source: KTRE Staff

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - Kristena Riley nearly lost her child 6 years ago when Riley's father accidentally left her 6-week-old daughter in the car at a Lufkin Walmart.

"I was in Groveton and my grandfather called me and I heard him say, 'How long was she in there, son?' I just hit my knees and started screaming," Riley said.

It was an act of heroism from two Walmart employees that said someone reported they saw a child in a car on isle 9 of the parking lot.

"She was just lifeless, she looked like a doll," said Jerald Hale one of the employees that broke a window to save Gracieanne. "I just remember looking at her and saying, 'She's gone, we're too late."

Penny Gonzalez, another stranger, that soon became a hero, said she refused to give up hope.

"I just looked at him and said, 'No! We are going to save her,' and then I said a prayer," Gonzalez said.

The crucial moments after they used a pole to crack a window and get the child out are when Hale said he was afraid they were too late.

"At this point I have no idea what I'm doing, I don't know CPR, so I just took off running," Hale said.

Split second thinking and help from a nurse inside the store gave them time to rush the baby to the hospital.

"That was probably the longest drive of my life," Riley said. "I kept calling the nurse asking for updates but she said she couldn't give me information."

After Gracieanne recovered, her mother said she wanted to do everything she could to repay the strangers for saving her child.

"There are not enough words to express how thankful I am, my child would not be here today if it was not for them," Riley said. "I would lay down for them because they did it for my child and I love them like they are my own family."

Now, the people connected by an unimaginable situation are using this to raise awareness for heat related deaths,

"Put your shoe back there with the baby, and you won't get on the hot ground without your shoe," Gonzalez said.

Riley added what she also learned from the situation that could have taken her child's life.

"If you're going to leave your child with someone, even people that you trust, make sure you know where they are going and be aware when you are traveling," Riley said.

A story that changed the lives of four people, and now they are hoping it will raise awareness and potentially save other children as well.

Copyright 2016 KTRE. All rights reserved.