Firefighters smashed the window of a car to rescue an 18-month-old boy who had been left in the dangerously hot vehicle for more than an hour.
The toddler had been left inside a 4x4 in a car park in Saffron Walden, Essex, on Saturday when temperatures reached up to 25C.
A passerby at a nearby fun day heard the boy screaming from inside the locked vehicle and raised the alarm.
The ticket stub on the dashboard of the Nissan X-Trail indicated that the boy may have been left inside for more than an hour.
Crowds watched the rescue operation after an announcement was made at the fun day urging the boy’s parents to return to their car.
The boy was pulled from the car at about 4.30pm after firefighters smashed the driver’s window.
A woman, believed to be his mother, eventually returned with another young boy. The toddler was passed to her and they were taken into the back of an ambulance where he was assessed by medical staff.
Police spoke to the woman in the back of the ambulance for more than half an hour.
It is understood the woman was later allowed to leave the scene in her car with the two children.
Witness Cheryl Thomas, 42, an accounts manager and a mother-of-two, said: "It was unbelievable. We were all enjoying a day out and suddenly they announced this crying little boy had been left inside a hot car.
"We could see the car park from where we were and everyone looked over to see paramedics outside the car, frantically trying to get in.
"Everyone was looking round for a parent rushing over but no-one came. We couldn't believe it when ten minutes later there was still no sign of anyone.
"It was such a hot day, we actually got sunburn while we were out there so that poor little boy must have been in such distress.
"It brings me to tears thinking about what he must have been going through.
"Then this woman just appeared from nowhere. No one realised she was the boy's mum to begin with as she didn't seem to show any emotion over what was happening.
"She had another little boy with her, who was older and holding her hand. We just couldn't understand why you would take one child out with you and leave one in the car for so long.
"Who knows where she had been or what she was doing. She didn't have any bags with her, just a big handbag, so whether she'd popped to a shop or not, I don't know.
"To leave your child for a minute is too long though, let alone an hour."
Yesterday afternoon our crews rescued a small child who had been left unattended in a car in Saffron Walden.
It is incredibly dangerous to leave a child, pet or anyone vulnerable in a vehicle... particularly in this heat. Please don't run the risk! #StaySafe pic.twitter.com/irSeFfZu09
— Essex Fire Service (@ECFRS) June 23, 2019
Saffron Walden Fire Station posted a picture of the smashed window on Facebook and said: "Well a first for us! We have been called to animals locked in cars while the owners go shopping but never a child.
"We cannot stress enough how dangerous it is to leave any person, child or animal locked in a car in this heat.
"The child was rescued by our crew who smashed a window to gain entry. The incident has now been handed over to Essex Police for further investigation. First aid was given by St John Ambulance crew."