(ABC News) Two utility workers who grew up together in Massachusetts are being hailed as heroes after guiding to warmth and safety a diaper-clad 2-year-old girl who managed to wander into car traffic during bitter cold weather.
"This poor girl--I think it was around 3 degrees [Farenheit] or so on the thermometer," Shawn Bronson, 44, told ABC News. "She had nothing on but a diaper."
Bronson was seated in Michael Payne's Comcast cable truck while his was in an auto shop being worked on two days ago.
And as they were driving along Main Street around 2:30 p.m. between two different service jobs in their hometown of Monson, Massachusetts they noticed the toddler trying to cross the state highway, and were alarmed because there wasn't a parent anywhere nearby.
"We both looked at each other and said 'Is that?' and 'Can you believe that?'" he said. "And then we just acted."
Bronson said he jumped out of the Comcast truck to warn other drivers zooming along the heavily trafficked Route 32 as Payne scooped up the girl who apparently wounded her leg.
"She ran right on the state highway," Bronson said. "She was in the middle of the road when she had fallen."
The wound, Bronson noted, collected some rock salt deposited that morning to ward off the icy conditions.
"The rock salt on her wound -- it was heart-wrenching," he said.
Payne said her condition was dire at first.
“Her skin was changing color and she was shaking,” he said. “You could really see it in her feet because she was barefoot on the cold concrete.”
The men whisked the cold little girl into the Woodbine Country Store and shed their gear to swaddle her.
“We just started taking off our warm stuff,” Bronson said. “We bundled her up as best we could and proceeded to the warmest spot. “It was the first thing we could think of.”
Police in Monson praised Comcast technicians Shawn Bronson and Michael Payne.
On their official Facebook page Monson Police said that the men "picked up the child and brought her into a nearby store to warm up and to wait for police to arrive."
"We commend these workers, who are also Monson residents, for their quick action leading to a positive outcome," the police said in the statement.
The toddler, the police confirmed, wore only a diaper on a day, records show, when the low temperature reached just 1 degree Fahrenheit.
The cops added that the men's vigilance as they drove along Main and Cushman Streets, in the New England town of less than 9,000 people, prevented what "could have had tragic consequences," the statement reads.
The police, the statement added, eventually identified the child and soon questioned her father who told them he "was completely unaware that the child had wandered off" until police informed him of her absence.
The father is facing charges of reckless endangerment of a child; his daughter was transported to Wing Hospital to be evaluated, the police said.
In a company statement to ABC News, Comcast spokeswoman Kirsten Roberts expressed how proud they were of the two men and "so thankful that their quick and smart reactions helped save the child."
The statement went on to say that both Bronson and Payne "are special people and employees, and we’re not surprised they immediately sprang into action."
The 44-year-old heroes said they have worked together as teammates long before they were installing cable and fiberoptics in states like Oklahoma, Texas and Kansas.
"We've had quite a run," Bronson said. "Our families all know each other, we played soccer together, went to the same high school."
"And we finish our own sentences," Payne said, laughing.
Bronson and Payne also said they are fathers and raising daughters of their own.
And as fathers, the rescue of the little girl in the freezing cold was something neither thought twice about.
"We had to do whatever we could do to help," Bronson said.
- Toddler found wandering in freezing cold
- Update: Teen found wandering in Kentucky is not boy who vanished nearly 8 years ago
- Officials investigating after Huntsville man with Down syndrome released from jail, found wandering the streets
- Mother of 4-year-old found wandering on Colbert County road turns herself in
- Hugh Freeze speaks In Huntsville
- Homeowners prepare for freeze warning
- Frigid with another Freeze Warning
- Light freeze likely Monday morning
- Huntsville mom wants answers after son with Down syndrome released from jail, left wandering the streets
- Marshall County Sheriff's Office has new technology to find people who wander off