TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — When officers Steven Zawacki and Landon Harsin spotted the car matching the description in the alert just sitting there, they had to move fast.
“The baby was motionless, so I thought, lifeless,” Zawacki said. “I have kids of my own, so I was pretty emotional.”
The Tampa officers were nearby getting maintenance on their own car when they heard about a stolen vehicle with an 11-month-old inside over the scanner. They drove into an apartment complex parking lot during the search, then saw the car on the other side of the fence — they scaled the fence and grabbed the baby inside.
“It’s hot in the car, baby was struggling a little bit,” Harsin recalled. “But [Zawacki] was there, he helped, we both got there quick. It just happened perfect.”
After they got the baby out, officers Martin Pollak and Anthony Hardesty showed up. As body camera video shows, they had Zawacki put the baby in the passenger seat of the patrol car, in the air conditioning.
Pollak said the call was a rough one.
“My son had just been born, so it was a little personal,” Pollak said. “When there are children injured, it’s a little harder.”
In the body cam footage released today, you can see the officers putting drops of water on the girl’s lips. They also placed a cool compress on her forehead until medical professionals arrived. Eventually, the baby was brought to a hospital where she made a full recovery and was reunited with her mom.
For their efforts, the four officers today received the Tampa Police Department’s life-saving award to applause during a ceremony at the convention center.
“We don’t do the job for rewards,” said Hardesty. “We do it because we legitimately care. It’s something that we want to do, it’s something that we love doing and we get a good chance to help people and do things that not many other people get a chance to do.”
According to police, doctors at the hospital told them if they hadn’t intervened in time, the baby probably would have died. All four officers agreed it couldn’t have been done without teamwork.