A 51-year-old disabled man, Timothy Cortinas, perished last August in a hot car on a 110 degree day; almost a year later, a manslaughter charge has been filed against the 25 year old caretaker who left him behind in his car. Earlier this month, prosecutors with the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office filed a criminal complaint in support of an arrest warrant for Emanuel Arellano, 25. He was eventually arrested by Los Angeles County sheriff deputies and is being held in jail in lieu of $50,000 bail.
Last fall, Cortinas’ mother, Irene Melendez, filed a wrongful death suit against Easterseals, San Gabriel/Pomona Valley’s Developmental Services, Holy Family Children’s Care, and Emanuel Arellano, who was the Easterseals employee who drove Cortinas. The civil lawsuit alleges the named parties were negligent in keeping Cortinas safe on the day he died, attorneys said in a news release at the time the suit was filed. “We don’t know why Timothy was never returned home that day, nor how long he was trapped in the car struggling for his life,” Neama Rahmani, of West Coast Trial Lawyers, said in the statement. “We do know, however, that organizations and individuals Irene entrusted with the life of her son neglected their duty to care for him, had no knowledge of his whereabouts for a significant period of time, and allowed his exposure to the extremely unsafe environment that led to his death.”
Timothy Cortinas died last August after being left inside a vehicle West Covina, California for an unknown length of time, according to Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department homicide detectives. According to the wrongful death suit, Cortinas was left inside a vehicle parked in front of Arellano’s home. Deputies from the department’s Walnut station responded to a call for a “fire rescue”; instead, they found an unresponsive man who had experienced an unknown medical emergency. He was pronounced dead at the scene and the Los Angeles County coroner’s office later determined he died from the effects of hyperthermia; at the time, the death was ruled an accident.
According to his mother, Cortinas was developmentally disabled and only spoke a few words. In an interview with KTLA-TV, Melendez said, “My heart is broken. To me he was my purpose, and he was my life. It’s just very hard and very difficult. I am going to the cemetery every week.”
On average, a child dies every 8 days in the United States from being left behind in a hot car. Statistics of adults facing the same fate aren’t calculated in the same way.