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Police: Long Island Nanny Hit By Car After Pushing Stroller Out Of Harm's Way

ROCKVILLE CENTRE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork/AP) -- A Long Island nanny was hailed as a hero Friday after saving the life of an infant in her care.

As CBS2's Jennifer McLogan reported, Loretta Penn, 62, pushed the 9-month-old boy in his stroller out of the way of a silver sport-utility vehicle that turned left and struck her Thursday afternoon at North Village and Hempstead avenues in Rockville Centre.

"Witnesses said that she was crossing the crosswalk, the operator of the vehicle never saw her, and as she saw the car was going to strike her, she pushed the stroller out of harm's way," Rockville Centre Police Commissioner Charles Gennario told 1010 WINS. "She knew she was going to get struck by the vehicle and had the wherewithal to protect the baby."

The Hernandez family was looking out the window and recording the aftermath of the accident.

"Oh my, oh my, she was a nanny. She saved a baby," said Ana Hernandez.

Alex Antigua was among those who rushed to the scene, though there were limits as to what he could do.

"I ran outside, because I wanted to try to help everybody lift up the car. By that time, it was already kind of too late, because at that point, when we were trying to lift the car, it looked like we were hurting her more than helping her," Antigua said. "So when I looked down, the lady was literally under the car, and then I saw the back of her head was bleeding."

Good Samaritans joined together to help Penn. Her legs and head were pinned as she cried for help.

"She was purple, not breathing," Gennario said. "Police officers with the assistance of some bystanders lifted the car off of the victim and she was able to start breathing again."

The baby whom Penn pushed free suffered barely a scratch. His grateful parents were overcome, according to investigators.

"She's practically family to us," Twah Dougherty, Penn's employer, told CBS2's Brian Conybeare. "I'm not surprised that, you know, she did what she did."

Witnesses and police officials alike called Penn's actions heroic.

"That is the kind of people we need around in the community -- people who care for other people," said witness Alex Padrone.

"When we talk about heroes -- an overused term -- this is one time it's not overused," Gennaro said.

Gennaro said the community was filled with emotion.

"There was a miracle at work," Gennaro said. "Not only do we have the poor victim being heroic, but we had an act of God."

Penn remained in critical condition, and under a medically induced coma, at South Nassau Communities Hospital in Oceanside late Friday, WCBS 880's Mike Xirinachs reported.

"She was in and out of consciousness, and her one concern that she asked was if the baby was OK," Dougherty said. "We are praying for her, and it's just, it's really unfortunate."

The driver was supposed to yield to pedestrians. But the driver's actions were not considered criminal, and she has not been charged.

(TM and © Copyright 2016 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2016 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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