A 39-year-old Iraq War veteran is facing homicide charges after his twins were found dead in his car.
According to CBS News, on the morning of July 26, Juan Rodriguez parked his car about two blocks away from the VA hospital where he worked in the Bronx.
He worked from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. before he returned to his vehicle and started on his journey home. According to New York City Councilmember Fernando Cabrera, that’s when Rodriguez looked in the rearview mirror and realized what he had done.
His 1-year-old twins, Luna and Phoenix Rodriguez, were deceased in the backseat of his car where he had left them for eight hours.
A witness, Enis Kricic, told CBS News that Rodriguez “was going crazy. He didn’t know what he’s gonna do.” It was passerby who called 911 for help.
As People reports, Rodriguez told authorities at the scene that he was supposed to drop his children off at day care on his way to work when he “blanked out”:
“I blanked out. My babies are dead. I killed my babies.”
Rodriguez’s lawyer, Joey Jackson, also shared the statement Rodriguez’s wife, Marissa, made in court with People. It read:
“This is my absolute worst nightmare. Everything I do reminds me of my sweet, intelligent, beautiful babies and I am still in disbelief. Though I am hurting more than I ever imagined possible, I still love my husband.
He is a good person and great father and I know he would’ve never done anything to hurt our children intentionally. I will never get over this loss and I know he will never forgive himself for this mistake. This was a horrific accident, and I need him by my side to go through this together. Luna and Phoenix will always live in our hearts and memories and we are working hard to come to terms with what has happened. We need to grieve, be strong, and be present for our other children. We ask that you respect our privacy during this most difficult time.”
As for how no one noticed the children in the backseat of the vehicle when walking by the vehicle, Cabrera said:
“The vehicle had tinted windows, so it was almost impossible for anybody to notice that the children were there.”
As Kids and Cars reports, “the most dangerous mistake a parent or caregiver can make is to think leaving a child alone in a vehicle could never happen to them or their family.”
Rodriguez pled not guilty to the two manslaughter charges and two counts of criminally negligent homicide being held against him. He has since been bailed out of jail.