Twin babies die after 8 hours in car; dad charged, told police he forgot they were there

Carol D'Auria
July 27, 2019 - 10:35 am

NEW YORK (1010 WINS) -- Twin infants were found dead inside a car in the Bronx, the NYPD said, and the siblings' father was charged with manslaughter after telling police he forgot they were in the vehicle.

Police said it appears the siblings — a one-year-old boy named Phoenix Rodriguez and a one-year-old girl named Mariza Rodriguez — were left in the car for eight hours while their father was working at a hospital in the Kingsbridge section of the Bronx.

Investigators believe the father parked his car outside the James J. Peters VA Medical Center around 8 a.m. to go to work.

Police said it appears he returned to the car after finishing work around 4 p.m. and realized the children were inside after driving a block or two.

Witnesses described seeing the father acting frantically beside the vehicle. One woman said he was crying and holding his head while saying, "Oh my God."

He said he forgot they were in the vehicle until seeing them strapped into their car seats in the backseat, according to police.

Citizen App video shows a large number of residents gathering around the vehicle as police investigated.

The two children were pronounced dead at the scene; it's not yet known what killed them, but it appears it may have been the intense summer heat that had built up in the car.

He has been identified as 39-year-old Juan Rodriguez. He was charged with two counts of manslaughter and two counts of criminally negligent homicide overnight Friday.

Sources told the Daily News that Rodriguez was not on drunk or on drugs at the time of the incident.

Rodriguez's neighbor in New City, Tony Catarino, told 1010 WINS' Carol D'Auria that it had to have been an accident. He says he's known the father for five years and always sees him playing with them at his house.

"They're always playing basketball in the side yard here. They had a camp out recently in the backyard. A whole bunch of friends were over with tents. They're just always active with the family," Catarino said. 

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