Two 1-year-old twin babies were found dead in the back of a car in the Bronx, in an incident that is still getting cleared up in the public sphere.
According to reports, the children’s father, 39-year-old Juan Rodriguez had left them unattended for over eight hours in a hot car, and in the end, claimed to have forgotten where they were.
The father, a disabled Iraq war veteran, had told authorities that he could not remember where he had left his kids. Before this, Juan dropped his three-year-old son at Yonkers.
At 8 a.m., he left daughter Luna Rodriguez and son Phoenix Rodriguez in the backseat of his Honda in the parking lot of his workplace. Rodriguez, a social worker, returned to the car at 4 p.m. and realized that they were in the car after he started driving.
He is now being charged with two counts of manslaughter, as well as two counts of negligent homicide.
Shortly afterward, an unknown eyewitness reportedly saw the man standing by the side of the road and screaming, and called the police.
When EMTs arrived, they could not resuscitate the children, who were foaming at the mouths. The police questioned the kids’ mother, Marissa Rodriguez, while the husband was being held at the police station.
Many have been horrified by the unexpected deaths, and the situation was made even more tragic by the fact that the family had recently celebrated their first birthday.
People close to the couple have described them as good, responsible parents, and many were shocked that things went down the way they did.
One neighbor explained: “I’ve never seen them outside unattended. Very good parents. They were July babies. It was just this month they had a big party — a bouncy house, the whole thing.”
Another person from the same area added: “How do you live your life after something like this? He would never hurt his children. He’s a very loving father … it’s beyond crazy. That’s a parent’s worst nightmare, it really is.”
Meanwhile, public outrage over the incident keeps growing, with some calling for harsher laws regarding the safety of children.
A commenter on social media replied: “I’m not gonna judge him…as a new parent that’s one of the scariest things I can think of to have happened. With my mentality, though…my family is more important than my job. Plus we have so many options now to make sure we don’t forget our children…they have those mirrors that go over the headrest so you can see your baby in the car seat…and I’ve even heard of electronic bracelets that beep when you and the child get separated….this is tragic none the less, and I pray for forgiveness between him and his family.”
A second person chimed in: “I can’t imagine this was an accident. When he got out of the car, how did he not see the back seat? All day???? Nah…”
The wife, Marissa Rodriguez, is standing by his side and has put out a statement defending him.
It read: “I will never get over this loss and I know he will never forgive himself for this mistake. This was a horrific accident, and I need him by my side to go through this together.”
She continued with: “Though I am hurting more than I ever imagined possible, I still love my husband. He is a good person and great father, and I know he would’ve never done anything to hurt our children intentionally.”
Juan Rodriguez was released on a $100,000 bail Saturday afternoon at Bronx criminal court and is due back in court next week.