New York Social Worker Dad Who Allegedly Left Twins in Hot Car Is Charged

July 28, 2019 Updated: July 28, 2019

A father who was charged in the deaths of his twin babies was released on bail over the weekend.

Juan Rodriguez, 39, of New York City, was taken before a judge and was charged in the twins’ hot-car deaths, reported the New York Post on July 27.

According to the report, he told police that he forgot to drop the twins off at their daycare on the morning of July 26. After he parked his car at a Bronx hospital, where he’s employed as a social worker, he didn’t realize they were in the back seat.

“The vehicle had tinted windows, so it was almost impossible for anybody to notice that the children were there,” NYC Council member Fernando Cabrera told CBS New York.

Eight hours later, Luna and Phoenix had a temperature of 108 degrees F when coroners examined their bodies.

“I assumed I dropped them off at daycare before I went to work,” Rodriguez, an Iraq war veteran who worked with veterans, told police, the report said. “I blanked out!” he cried. “My babies are dead! I killed my babies!”

The father was still crying when he appeared at his arraignment Saturday.

“He carried on with his day,” Assistant District Attorney Jaime Breslin told the judge. “He forgot his children in the seats.”

Rodriguez’s lawyer, Joey Jackson, said it was a “tragedy of horrific proportions.”

Two hours later, he made bail and was released to his family.

According to CBS New York, he is on suicide watch.

“My client is inconsolable. He is beside himself in grief, and he’s been that way for a period of time, and I’m concerned about his mental health,” Jackson told the news outlet.

Neighbor Galit Maayani said the parents “loved their kids and that’s what we see from the outside.”

“Lovely family. They were always out in the backyard saying hi waving hello,” David Maayani added.

Rodriguez is married and has three other children, the CBS affiliate reported.

Jackson, meanwhile, told CNN that he faces criminally negligent homicide, which carries a maximum sentence of four years. He was also charged with manslaughter, which carries a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison.

“His mental state is very fragile based on what happened. It’s just an awful scenario,” Jackson added.

Hospital spokesman Jim Connell later confirmed Rodriguez is an employee.

“The entire hospital community is saddened by news of this tragic event. While the situation is currently under the jurisdiction of local authorities, we offer our sincere and heartfelt condolences to the family. As matter of respect to the family during this difficult time, and with due regard to their privacy, we have no further comment at this time,” Connell said in a statement.

On the day the twins were left in the car, temperatures in New York City reached about 90 degrees.

Dangerous Situation

Heatkills.org, citing the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said that when outdoor temperatures range between 80 and 100 degrees, the interior of the car can get to 130 to 172 degrees.

“Children have died in cars with the temperature as low as 63 degrees. Basically, the car becomes a greenhouse. At 70 degrees on a sunny day, after a half hour, the temperature inside a car is 104 degrees. After an hour, it can reach 113 degrees,” stated Jan Null, adjunct professor at San Francisco State University, according to the website.

The NoHeatStroke.org website says 803 children have died in the United States due to heatstroke in hot cars since 1998. All of these deaths were preventable, the website said.

“The atmosphere and the windows of a car are relatively ‘transparent’ to the sun’s shortwave radiation and are warmed little. However, this shortwave energy does heat objects that it strikes. For example, a dark dashboard, steering wheel, or seat temperatures often are in the range of 180 to over 200 degrees F,” it stated.

Annually, about 38 children under the age of 15 die from heatstroke after being left in a vehicle, says Injury Facts.

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