A father of five said he blanked out when he left his twins in the car as he went to work — and the mistake would have tragic consequences.
A father of five said he blanked out when he left his twins in the car as he went to work — and the mistake would have tragic consequences.

Dad avoids jail after leaving babies to die in car

A father in the United States has avoided jail after pleading guilty to leaving two of his children in a car, with the hot temperatures inside causing the one-year-old twins' deaths.

In July last year New York man Juan Rodriguez accidentally left Luna and Phoenix in the back of his car when he arrived at work.

Rodriguez said he "blanked out" and forgot to drop the twins to daycare before arriving at work. Tragically, eight hours later, Luna and Phoenix were discovered dead inside the car.

Juan Rodriguez and his wife Marissa with twins Phoenix and Luna.
Juan Rodriguez and his wife Marissa with twins Phoenix and Luna.

At his sentencing hearing on Tuesday Rodriguez pleaded guilty to second-degree reckless endangerment charges.

The 39-year-old received a one-year conditional discharge, meaning he will not be jailed over the incident.

District Attorney Darcel Clark told the court a "thorough investigation" would need to happen into the incident.

Luna and Phoenix were "were strapped in their car seats throughout the hot summer day, with no windows open", and their body temperatures soared to 42 degrees, local TV station NBC New York reported.

"These babies suffered horribly and we owed them a thorough investigation," Mr Clark said. "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."

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The twins died in July last year after being left in a hot car for more than eight hours.
The twins died in July last year after being left in a hot car for more than eight hours.

'I KILLED MY BABIES'

Rodriguez had parked in the carpark of the Fordham Manor VA Hospital where he worked as a social worker around 8am and returned to the car at around 4pm.

He drove several blocks before noticing Phoenix and Luna were strapped in the back seat and unresponsive.

The distraught father called 911 and paramedics soon arrived on the scene, however, were unable to save the twins.

Rodriguez told police at the time he had " "blanked out, my babies are dead, I killed my babies".

In an interview with US TV show Dr Phil last December, Rodriguez's wife Marissa Rodriguez revealed she had forgiven her husband for the "terrible accident".

Juan Rodriguez, holding his son Tristan, leaves Bronx Criminal Court with his wife Marissa after a hearing in August last year. Picture: AP Photo/Mark Lennihan.
Juan Rodriguez, holding his son Tristan, leaves Bronx Criminal Court with his wife Marissa after a hearing in August last year. Picture: AP Photo/Mark Lennihan.

The couple have three other children and are committed to raising awareness about their experience so that other parents do not have to go through the same experience.

"I can't imagine not having my husband next to me to grieve throughout this process," she said.

"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 realise 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."

Originally published as Dad avoids jail after leaving babies in car


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