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  • It happened on Thursday, while FDNY firefighter Matthew Clinton was walking by a Target in Queens, New York.

    According to the New York Post, Clinton is assigned to the fire academy and was walking to a parking lot with two trainees in College Point when he spotted a 5-year-old boy struggling inside a car.

    Clinton told the paper that he immediately noticed the child was alone inside the car, which had its windows rolled up -- and he was sweating profusely.

    “The kid was very distraught," he recalled. "Tried to settle him … and a small crowd started to form."

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  • Luckily, Clinton was probably the perfect person to happen upon the boy -- because his quick-thinking led him to free the boy in mere minutes.

    With the doors locked shut, Clinton immediately began thinking of how he could break through one of the windows. 

    “I had asked everybody if they had a tire iron,” he shared. And believe it or not, somebody did have something that would work. 

    "A gentleman came and handed me a hammer," Clinton recalled, before describing how he smashed the driver's side window with the metal tool.

  • Once the glass was shattered, Clinton and some of his fellow bystanders helped get the boy out of the car safely until NYPD officers arrived.

    “Police showed up soon after I broke the window, and a little while after that the dad came into the parking lot,” Clinton noted, adding that “he did look very concerned.”

    Moments later, though, Geremie Ram, 42, was in handcuffs. According to the Post, police charged him with reckless endangerment, as well as acting in a manner dangerous to a child. During a search, police also found Xanax on the father -- for which he had no prescription -- which led to an additional charge of possession of a controlled substance.

    Meanwhile, the 5-year-old boy, who has not been named publicly, was rushed to Flushing Hospital Medical Center but is expected to be fine.

  • The scary incident, which luckily had a happy ending, comes after a rash of recent hot car deaths have hit headlines.

    Two weeks ago, another New York father, Juan Rodriguez, was arrested after he drove to his job in the Bronx and forgot his twin 1-year-olds in the back seat. The distraught father sobbed during his arraignment and told police he'd simply "forgotten" to drop his babies off at daycare, because they were sitting in rear-facing car seats at the time. When he finally discovered them in the car, after they'd been trapped for more than seven hours, both children were foaming at the mouth and had core body temperatures of over 100 degrees.

    The agonizing deaths left the nation stunned and the entire Rodriguez family heartbroken, though last week prosecutors announced they would not pursue charges against the father at that time.

    In June, another heartbreaking story came out of Texas, when a 4-year-old died inside a hot car parked in the family driveway. According to WFAA, Lisa Neyland had taken her three sons and their friend to a nearby store to buy candy one afternoon, but when they returned, a fatal error led to the death of her son Keysen. As her 11-year-old son told police, he unbuckled both of his brothers from their car seats and brought one of them into the house, before telling his mother to grab Kaysen. But it appears that never happened -- the boy was found unresponsive three hours later, with a body temperature of 110 degrees. His mother has since been charged.

    That same month, an 11-month-old in Missouri lost her life after a "miscommunication" between her parents led her to be left inside a car for more than 15 hours. Medical examiners determined Joseline Eichelberger died from the extreme heat, as temperatures soured to 79 degrees outside but were much hotter inside the car.

    “You have two young parents,” family friend Barbara Beckett told KMOV at the time. “One telling one to get the child and other telling the other … you know, mistakes are made. It’s a nightmare. They are traumatized. They can’t stop crying.”

  • As for the near-tragedy in Queens this week, the boy's family is no doubt grateful to Clinton's quick thinking and bravery.

    After all, an average of 38 children die in the US each year from being left inside a hot car, and the boy very well could have been the next.

    But despite being hailed as a hero, Clinton remains humble about the whole thing. "I was just there at the right time,” he shared.