A 39-year-old disabled Iraq war veteran was charged in the death of his one-year-old twins after he accidentally left them in the back seat of his car, while caring for the homeless and other vets. Juan Rodriguez, described by everybody as an amazing father, dropped his 4-year-old son off to daycare, then went about the rest of his day — forgetting the twins, who needed to be dropped off at a separate daycare center. While he is being blamed, social media is rallying on his behalf, saying he’s suffered enough.
From the NYPost:
By all accounts, he was a doting dad to his year-old twin son and daughter, setting up a bouncy castle in the yard for their recent first birthday party and dressing them in their latest cute outfits while his wife made breakfast in their Rockland County split-level. Then, on Saturday, Juan Rodriguez, 39, was hauled handcuffed before a judge, charged with the babies’ hot-car deaths. He forgot to drop them off at their day care Friday morning, Rodriguez has told cops — and didn’t realize they were still in the back seat when he parked at the Bronx hospital where he’s a social worker, court papers reveal. Eight hours later, the twins, Luna and Phoenix, registered an internal temperature of 108 degrees when coroners examined their bodies in their car seats. “I assumed I dropped them off at day care before I went to work,” Rodriguez told cops at the scene, according to the criminal complaint against him. “I blanked out!” he cried. “My babies are dead! I killed my babies!” Rodriguez was still sobbing at his arraignment Saturday night before Bronx Criminal Court Justice Patsy Goldborne. A disabled Iraq war veteran, he still wore the same turquoise polo shirt he’d worn Friday as he cared for homeless and ailing vets at his job at a VA hospital in Kingsbridge — oblivious that his twins were in the back seat of his Honda Accord in the parking lot.
A neighbor said it had to have been a mistake. The site also recalls the moment Rodriguez realized he left them in the car…
“This was just a horrible mistake,” neighbor Tony Caterino, 45, said of Rodriguez. “That one time you make a mistake, and you have to live with it for the rest of your life.” On Friday morning, Rodriguez had driven to work, as usual, from his home in New City, a middle-class, heavily wooded suburb an hour’s drive north of the city. Video shows it was 8:22 a.m. when he parked in the hospital parking lot, police sources said. The video shows him returning at one minute before 4 p.m. Rodriguez started the car and drove north toward home — only to pull over less than 10 minutes later, while still in the Bronx, on Kingsbridge Terrace. “I left them in the car!” he began screaming. Witnesses called 911; arriving medics could not revive the babies and they were pronounced dead at the scene.
We are praying for Rodriguez and his loved ones during this tragic time. This is unspeakably sad.