THE BRONX — Twin babies, a boy and a girl, were found dead in the back of a car in the Bronx after their father forgot them when he went to work, according to sources.
Juan Rodriguez, 39, was charged with two counts each of manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide. Police had said Rodriguez discovered Phoenix and Mariza Rodriguez around 4 p.m. in the Bronx.
Supporters who gathered outside the Bronx arraignment court cheered when Rodriguez was released on $100,000 bail. Hugged by his wife and the mother of his twins, the couple disappeared into a waiting car and drove off.
The couple is said to be devastated.
"Under no circumstance would anyone ever, ever want to see or would believe they will see their 1 year old babies in a car and as a result of unfortunately leaving them there — those children dying way too soon," said defense attorney Joey Jackson. "That's something the family will never get over, and thats something that unfortunately happens in this country everyday."
Rodriguez is a veteran and has a masters in social work.
Officials say the twins, each 1 year old were found in the back of the car at West Kingsbridge Road and Kingsbridge Terrace.
Rodriguez went to work at 8 a.m. Friday at the Veterans Affairs hospital and forgot the babies in the car, sources said. He returned to the car at 4 p.m., drove a short distance, and noticed the babies.
He was later taken into custody.
At the court appearance, Assistant District Attorney Jamie Brelsin said the children's temperature was 108 degrees when they were found at the scene.
"How can you leave the children behind and forget about the kids?" C.J. Rivera, the father of a 9-year-old, wondered. "As a father, you're supposed to take care of your family, take care of your responsibilities."
Rivera said the news was shocking, even more so because he says the neighborhood is community-oriented and usually has steady foot traffic thanks to a nearby bus stop.
Shortly after the crime tape went up, devastated neighbors gathered across the street to leave candles as part of a makeshift memorial for the children.
In 1990, car seats were mandated to be placed in the back seats of cars because of dangers from airbags.
With car seats less visible, reported deaths have spiked.
From 1990 to 2017, 863 children died from heat related deaths in cars.