A dad of twins from New York City whose one-year-olds died after he left them in a hot car while he worked an eight-hour shift will not go to jail after pleading guilty to reckless endangerment.
Juan Rodriguez pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor of two counts of second-degree reckless endangerment but was told that he would be jailed if he was arrested within the next year.
Rodriguez said he thought he had already dropped the twins, a boy and a girl, off at their usual day care before he went to his job at a Bronx hospital last July.
Juan Rodriguez, 39, whose young twins died after being left in a sweltering car pleaded guilty to reckless endangerment Tuesday and will avoid prison. He is pictured last December
Juan Rodriguez, pictured last August, appeared at a virtual hearing and pleaded guilty to two counts of second-degree reckless endangerment, a misdemeanor
His one-year-old daughter, Luna, and son, Phoenix, died in July 2019 after he forgot to drop them at daycare and they spent eight hours in a sweltering car
Shocked friends described Rodriguez as a devoted father. He is seen doting on the twins
Investigators say Rodriguez parked him silver Honda Accord with his infants, Phoenix and Luna still in their carseats.
The weather on that July day was in the 80s Fahrenheit with temperatures in the car up to 50 degrees higher.
It wasn’t until after finishing work that he realized the twins were still I the back of the car, but had already died.
Last year Rodriguez pleaded not guilty to two counts each of manslaughter, criminally negligent homicide and endangering the welfare of a child,
Rodriguez told authorities he thought he had dropped the twins off at day care before going to work. Rodriguez drove off after finishing work before realizing the children were in the car (pictured) and frantically summoning help
Luna and Phoenix died last July after being left for eight hours in their car seats in their father’s car. They are pictured at their first birthday party
‘For the rest of his life, he will be scarred by what happened here,’ defense attorney Joey Jackson said. ‘He will feel really badly by what has occurred here. So I don’t think today is any vindication for him.’
‘The defendant, Juan Rodriguez, left his one-year-old twins in the backseat of his car for hours while he went to work,’ Bronx District Attorney Darcel Clark explained.
‘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.’
Rodriguez, an Iraq War veteran, said that he forgot the children were in the car on his way to work, possibly because his regular routine changed when construction forced him to take a different route that morning.
The twins were two of the pair’s five children. Rodriguez, an Iraq War veteran, says that he forgot the children were in the car on his way to work, possibly because his regular routine changed when construction forced him to take a different route that morning
Rodriguez, had initially pleaded not guilty after being charged with manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide. He is pictured in court last December
Twins Luna and Phoenix who died in a hot car on July 26. They were found lifeless with body temperatures of 108 degrees Fahrenheit
The twins were two of Rodriquez’s and his wife Marissa’s five children.
Known as Forgotten Child Syndrome, experts say that any parent can potentially fall prey to a similar lapse in memory with horrifying consequences.
‘Even the best of parents or caregivers can unknowingly leave a sleeping baby in a car; and the end result can be injury or even death,’ according to the group Kids and Cars, which studies the issue and pushes to raise awareness.
The horrific scene unfolded outside James J. Peters VA Medical Center, where Rodriguez finished his eight-hour shift at 4pm.
Temperatures were in the 80s that day, and the twins body temperatures reached 108 degrees, investigators said.
Rodriguez, 39, parked his Honda Accord in a car park in The Bronx on July 26, 2019 forgetting that his daughter, Luna, and son, Phoenix, were in the back seat
The infant twins were strapped in the back seat of Rodriguez’s Honda and he initially got into the car and began driving for a few minutes before seeing the sickening sight in his back seat.
Both twins were dead and ‘foaming at the mouth’, having succumbed to acute heatstroke.
After making the tragic discovery, he screamed which attracted the attention of a bystander who quickly called 911.
Juan Rodriguez is joined by his wife Marissa Rodriguez after appearing at Bronx Supreme Court in the Bronx last December
‘I assumed I dropped them off at day care before I went to work,’ he reportedly told cops who arrived at the scene.
‘I blanked out! I My babies are dead! I killed my babies!’
Facebook photos show Rodriguez as a devoted family man who was frequently pictured doting on the twins.
Speaking for the first time since the tragedy in December, Marissa Rodriguez told Dr. Phil that no sentence could be harsher than the pain of losing their babies and that while she was ‘mad’ at her husband, she had forgiven him.
Marissa Rodriguez appeared on Dr. Phil in November to speak for the first time about her one-year-old twins’ deaths in July
Juan and Marissa Rodriguez pictured on their wedding day
‘I can’t imagine not having my husband next to me to grieve throughout this process.
‘Bottom line is that I’m supportive and understanding but I have been so angry. I just couldn’t understand how it happened and as I’m processing all of this, I realize this happens more often than I ever knew.
‘I also know that it was a terrible accident and there was no intention. he would never hurt our children,’ she cried
She also recalled in excruciating detail the day of their deaths and what happened when Juan phoned her to tell her the babies had died.
‘Like any other morning in general, we wake up bout five or 6am and get the children together, feed them, all three small ones, put them in their car seats. Our four-year- old was able to get in his car seat, Juan strapped him in, I strapped the babies in.
‘I got them ready to go. That was the last time I saw them,’ she said.
Dr. Rosina McAlpine told Fox News, that parents sometimes forget their children, leaving them inside hot vehicles, because they’re in a rush to get to work, make an an appointment, or have some other obligation.
Juan Rodriguez avoided jail time with a conditional discharge, which would be voided if he is arrested within the next year. He is pictures last July, sobbing in court
They ‘forget they haven’t dropped the child off at day care or school and rush off to the meeting or work distracted, leaving their child behind.’
‘Later they remember in shock but often it is too late,’ McAlpine says, noting some parents alternate dropping their child off at day care, and might ‘forget it was their turn.’
Some caregivers ‘knowingly’ leave children inside cars, as the kids ‘are sleeping and don’t want to disturb them in the hope they’ll get back before they awake.’
Those who leave their children in the car also may not understand the danger they’re in, or consider how fast cars can heat up.
The interior temperature of a car can quickly soar with 80 percent of the total temperature rise happening in the first 30 minutes a child is inside a car.
Temperatures inside the car can often exceed those outside by up to 50 degrees.