Tragedy struck New York yesterday; twin 1-year olds, one girl, one boy, died from being left behind in a hot car by their 39 year old father. Juan Rodriguez was charged with two counts each of criminally negligent homicide and manslaughter for leaving his infant twins, Mariza and Phoenix, in the back seat of his Honda Accord while he was inside James J. Peters VA Hospital in Kingsbridge, where he works as a social worker.
At 8am Friday, he parked 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.
According to NYPD, a passerby called them after witnessing Rodriguez screaming on the side of the road.
The babies weren’t breathing and were foaming at the mouth when EMS arrived. They were pronounced dead on the scene.
Mariza and Phoenix became the 22nd and 23rd hot vehicle death of a child in the United States this year. On average, an American child dies from being left behind in a hot car once every 8 days. Last year, a record 52 children died in hot cars, according to the National Safety Council.