A father in New York City is left heartbroken and facing felony murder charges after he accidentally left his twin babies locked inside a hot car for over eight hours.
39-year-old Juan Rodriguez of Rockland County was awaiting arraignment on manslaughter charges early Saturday after the dad left his 1-year-old twins in the back of his car in The Bronx for hours, killing them. The twins, identified as Luna and Phoenix, had just celebrated their first birthday. Their father is now facing two counts of criminally negligent homicide for leaving the twins in the back seat of his Honda Accord while he went to James J. Peters VA Hospital in Kingsbridge, where he works as a social worker.
Friends and family of the father of five have defended him for the mistake that cost him two of his children’s lives.
The US veteran is “an amazing guy. He’s always been there for his kids. Always. This is just a horrible situation. The family isn’t doing so well,” buddy Temple Barros, 41, said Saturday morning outside Juan Rodriguez’ New City home, NY Post reports.
Rodgriguez told cops he parked his car at his job at 8 a.m. under the impression he had already dropped his twins off at daycare. He claims he only realized he left his kids in the car once he drove off after work at about 4 p.m., police said. A witness called police after they saw Rodriguez screaming on the side of the road at Kingsbridge Terrace and Kingsbridge Road, police said.
The babies weren’t breathing and were foaming at the mouth when the ambulance arrived. They were pronounced dead on scene, NY Post reports.
“This was just a horrible mistake. That one time you make a mistake and you have to live with it for the rest of your life,” said neighbor Tony Caterino, 45.
“It’s just horrible. They were a great family. Always doing things with the kids, always in the yard playing. They had a big camp out last weekend with tents in the back yard. He would always play catch or basketball with his older kids.”
Paul Bartlett, 39, called Rodriguez and his family “good, hardworking people. I have nothing bad to say about them. It’s just shocking to hear. I can’t wrap my head around it. No one here can believe it.”
Press play below for more on this story.