A 39 year old who let his twin babies die in a hot car last summer in New York won’t need to go to prison. Juan Rodriguez pleaded guilty to reckless endangerment and will avoid prison time as a result. At a virtual hearing, he plead guilty to two counts of second-degree reckless endangerment which is a misdemeanor. With a conditional discharge in place, Rodriguez will avoid any jail time as long as he isn’t arrested for any other crime within the next year.
Rodriguez was initially charged with felony counts of second-degree manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide, as well as misdemeanor counts of endangering the welfare of a child, in the deaths of his two children last July
The father of three children left his 1-year-old twins in the backseat of his car for hours while he went to work,” Bronx District Attorney Darcel Clark said. “The children were strapped in their car seats throughout the hot summer day, with no windows open. These babies suffered horribly, and we owed them a thorough investigation. This was a tragic, unfortunate incident. I hope that as the sweltering weather is upon us, caregivers will be extra vigilant about children in vehicles.”
Last July, Rodriguez told police he dropped off his 4-year-old son Tristan at a Westchester daycare but forgot that his twins were in their rear-facing car seats. He went onto park his Honda Accord at West Kingsbridge Road and Kingsbridge Terrace with the babies still inside. From there, he walked to the VA Hospital and spent the day working, forgetting about the infants in the car. During the day, the outdoor air temperature rose into the mid 80’s; according to the National Weather Service, at those temperatures, it is likely that the air temperature inside the vehicle climbed into the 120s in as little as an hour. Police say he returned to the car at 4pm, only to realize the babies were inside after he had driven away for two blocks. The infants were found dead with foam coming from their mouths.
Rodriguez is a licensed clinical social worker and an Army veteran who served in Iraq.
According to NoHeatstroke.Org, the majority of hot car deaths, amounting to 54% of them, happen because someone forgets a child in a car. About 46% of the time a child was forgotten, the caregiver had planned to drop the child off at a care facility such as a daycare or preschool. Almost 75% of all children who are forgotten and die are under 2 years old.
Heatstroke occurs when a person’s temperature exceeds 104 degrees F. At that point, the ability for a human to regulate their temperature and bodily functions fails. At first, symptoms of heatstroke include dizziness, disorientation, confusion, sluggishness, loss of consciousness, and rapid heartbeat. Once the body temperature climbs to 107 degrees or greater, internal organs begin to shut down and human cells are damaged. It is at this point death can quickly occur. This is especially true in children; small bodies can’t regulate body temperatures as efficiently as an adult’s; as such, a child’s body can warm 2-3 times faster than that of an adult.
Automobiles can become deadly ovens in the summer. When the outside temperature is only 70, the temperature inside a vehicle can climb to 113 degrees in an hour. On a 95 degree day, temperatures inside a vehicle can warm to 138 degrees in an hour.
Authorities warn drivers to never leave a child in an unattended car, even with the windows down. Drivers should make it a habit to open the rear door of the car every time they park to ensure no one is left inside. Children have also been known to sneak into cars on their own, becoming trapped and dying as a result. To prevent that, authorities recommend that people keep their vehicle locked at all times, even when it is inside a garage. Authorities also recommend that keys never be left within reach of children. If a child is ever missing, people should immediately check the inside, floorboards, and trunk of all vehicles in the area.