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Tampa police officers recognized after saving baby from abandoned stolen car

The baby was overheated, but the officers were able to use a cool compress and give her tiny bits of water to save her from a life-or-death incident.

TAMPA, Fla. — Four police officers with the Tampa Police Department were honored Thursday for their quick thinking and life-saving skills that revived a baby who was rescued from a stolen car back in August.

Body camera footage shows what happened in late August when the child was found by Officers Steven Zawacki, Martin Pollak, Anthony Hardesty and Landon Harsin.

At the awards ceremony, the officers talked about what it was like for them that day.

"We were in the area when the call came out," Officer Harsin recalled. It was for a stolen car.

Harsin was with Zawacki. The two were actually out of service for routine car maintenance, but they responded anyway. They found the stolen car. To get to it, the officers recalled hopping over a fence.

When they opened the car door, they saw the 11-month-old baby inside.

It was a black car and the temperature that day had a high of 96 degrees. The officer described the baby as "extremely hot."

"The baby was motionless. I thought, lifeless," Zawacki recalled.

As a father himself, Zawacki knew he needed to cool the baby down.

"I have kids of my own so I was pretty emotional," Zawacki recalled. "I retrieved the baby and I walked away. Started walking down the street in the shade."

Two more Tampa police officers arrived on scene. Both of these officers are former military and knew how to treat a heat injury.

"It’s no longer a stolen vehicle and just apprehending the suspect, it’s this could be a life or death situation," Hardesty said.

The officers put the baby in their air-conditioned patrol car and put water on her lips and skin.

She was eventually sent to St. Joseph's Children's Hospital to be checked out and was reunited with her mother. 

The baby made a full recovery. She’s now almost a year and a half and she’ll see many more thanks to these officers.

Medical staff told Tampa police the baby had a strong chance of dying if it weren't for the officers finding and giving her first aid when they did. Each officer was awarded a "Life Saving Award." It's how the department is thanking them for their actions on Aug. 5, 2022.

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