A New York father had completed an eight-hour shift at the hospital and driven two blocks before he remembered he had left his one-year-old twins in the car as he spotted them in the back seat “foaming at the mouth,” according to police.
Medics pronounced the boy and girl dead at the scene, according to the New York Post.
Bystanders had called 911 when they saw the children’s father, Juan Rodriguez, 39, outside his Honda Accord on a street in the Bronx on the afternoon of July 26, screaming.
Rodriguez has been charged with two counts of manslaughter and two counts of criminally negligent homicide, according to local reports.
He said that he accidentally left the children in the car.
Rodriquez told police he had driven to work with the twins in the car after dropping his 4-year-old off at a home in Westchester, reported WABC. He parked up around 8 a.m at the hospital where he works as a social worker, forgetting that the twins were still in their rear-facing seats.
— New York Post (@nypost) July 27, 2019
It wasn’t until he got in the car after finishing work eight hours later and started driving that he realized what he had done.
Police say he pulled over and screamed for help, according to WABC.
Naveen Dhaliwal is in the Bronx where two twins were found dead in a hot car: https://7ny.tv/2K6eyv3
The twins, identified as Mariza and Phoenix Rodriguez, had already stopped breathing.
Rodriquez works as a social worker at the James J. Peters VA Hospital in Kingsbridge.
He lives in the Rockland County hamlet of New City, where neighbors said they were shocked by the news of the deaths.
One neighbor described them as loving and attentive parents, reported the New York Post.
“They were July babies. It was just this month they had a big party—a bouncy house, the whole thing.”
“I’ve never seen them outside unattended,” the neighbor said, referring to the couple’s twins and 4-year-old.
“He would never hurt his children,” another neighbor told the New York Post. “He’s a very loving father … it’s beyond crazy.”
Temperatures in the area were in the mid-80s at the time. Temperatures inside a car are likely to have been much higher.
Children’s bodies can heat up three to five times faster than an adult’s body, AAA/Mid-Atlantic spokeswoman Tracy Noble previously told New Jersey 101.5. “On a 95-degree day, a car can heat up to over 180 degrees. And it only takes temperatures at 104 degrees for internal organs to start to shut down. So even in a matter of moments we can have a catastrophe on our hands.”
Hot Car Deaths
According to NoHeatStroke.org, 803 children have died in the United States due to Pediatric Vehicular Heatstroke (PVH) since 1998. All of these deaths were preventable.
Explaining how the heatstroke deaths happen, the organization 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.”
Every year, an average of 38 children under the age of 15 die from heat stroke after being left in a vehicle, according to Injury Facts.
In 2018, 52 children died after being left in a hot car.
“In more than half of these fatalities, the child was forgotten in the vehicle by a parent or caregiver,” said the Injury Facts.