Ben Theriot is a 12-year-old boy from Tusla, Oklahoma. He is one of four siblings, and they were all preparing to head back to school. It was a hot day in late August. According to the local weather reports, the head index on this particular day was 116 degrees. Despite the scorching hot temperatures, he was out with his mother, Nikki fields, who works at the city’s Red River Saloon. They were out that day so that Nikki could buy Ben’s shoes and clothes for school.
Highland Shopping Center
Ben was preparing to go into 7th grade, and he was excited about the new school year. Nikki pulled into the Highland Plaza Shopping Center in Tulsa so that she could take her son to Ross Dress For Less to get the items that he needed for school. Nikki found a parking spot as close to the store as possible. It was really hot outside, so walking across the parking lot was the last thing that Ben or Nikki wanted to do.
The two got out of the car and started heading toward the store. Ben stopped immediately when he heard a baby crying. At first, he assumed that a mother was having trouble calming her baby down. As he got closer to the cry, he realized that he was wrong. There was no mother around at all. He looked into the car, and the baby was inside alone. She was screaming, and her face was red. Ben knew that he had to do something immediately if he was going to save this baby’s life. Ben ran back to his mother’s car while she called 911.
Searching For a Tool
When Ben got back to his mother’s car, he started looking for something that he could use to break the window. It would be the only way to get the baby out of the car safely. Finally, he found a ratchet strap. These are often used to hold heavy things down. They contain a large metal piece that is used to shorten or lengthen the straps. Ben grabbed it from the car and ran back to where his mother was standing.
Failed First Try
Ben was going to use the metal part of the strap to smash the window to get the baby out. He thought that he would break the passenger window because it was the furthest place from where the baby was sitting. He didn’t want any glass to hit the baby, so he thought it was the best option. He tried to hit the side window several times, but it didn’t break. Ben says that it cracked a little, but he couldn’t get it to break with the ratchet.
Ben knew that the back window wouldn’t be an option because the baby was right there. He didn’t want her to get cut with the glass, so his only option was to break the windshield. He thought that since the windshield was larger than a door window, that it would be easier to break it. He swung the ratchet strap over his shoulder, and he hit it right in the center. After hitting it a few times, he created a hole big enough so that he could fit through and get into the car. The only problem was that there were still sharp shards of glass that could have hurt him seriously.
While Ben was hitting the windshield, a store associate came along with a rack. Ben and the associate used the rack to put it into the hole and pulled the whole windshield out. Now, it was safe for Ben to get into the car without getting cut himself. Another woman came over with a hanger, and Ben leaned in the windshield and unlocked the door with the hanger.
The Baby’s Condition
When they got the baby out of the car, her skin was beet red, and she was covered in sweat. Fortunately, she seemed alright. Around the same time, the police arrived. They took the baby and went inside to find the mother. When the mother was located, she was told what happened. She asked to see her baby, and the police refused. They were going to call child protective services to work it out.
Was This Legal?
Some people wondered if what Ben did to the woman’s car was legal. It turns out that many states, Oklahoma included, have laws that allow citizens to do whatever it takes to save a child who is alone in a hot car. What Ben did was not only legal, but it was also heroic.
When word spread of Ben’s heroism, he was given an award for his bravery. Had it not been for him, the baby could have died that day. After a 12-year-old smashed a car windshield, he was soon being called a hero.