In July 2019, Iraq war veteran Juan Rodriguez was preparing for his 8-hour shift at his local VA hospital where he worked when he put his 1-year-old twins in his car. Rodriguez was supposed to drop his children off at daycare on his way into work.
However, the father forgot his twins were in the back seat after dropping his 5-year-old son off at a separate school, and instead of going to their daycare before work, Rodriguez headed straight for the hospital. Around 4:00 p.m, that July 26th day, Rodriguez returned to his vehicle, got inside, drove for two blocks, and that’s when he realized his mistake.
At the time, a witness told CBS News that Rodriguez “went crazy” when he discovered his children deceased in his car. It was a passerby who called 911, as the father said, “I blanked out. My babies are dead. I killed my babies.”
Eleven months later, on June 23, it was revealed that the father will not serve time for his role in Luna and Phoenix Rodriguez‘s deaths. After pleading guilty to two counts of second-degree reckless endangerment, Rodriguez was sentenced to a one-year conditional discharge. According to New York legislation, a conditional discharge is an order that states an offender will not be sentenced for a crime unless the offender commits another crime within a specific period of time.
Father of Twins Who Died in a Hot Car Won’t Serve Time
During this difficult year-long process for the Rodriguez family, his wife and Luna and Pheonix’s mom, Marissa, stood by her husband. In an initial statement released by her lawyer, Marissa said that while “this is my absolute worst nightmare” and even though the hurt she’s feeling is “unimaginable,” she still loves her husband.
“[Juan 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.”
She later echoed those sentiments while a guest on The Dr. Phil Show. Marissa said that she “can’t understand” how taking her husband away from her and their other children “would be considered justice at all.” The griefing mom said she needs Rodgriguez with her to grieve the loss of their twins together. She also made it clear that even though she is supportive of her husband, they “are both living in our own personal hell,” adding that she still can’t understand how this all happened.
After revealing that Rodriguez will not serve time, Bronx District Attorney Darcel Clark had a message for other parents with little ones. “These babies suffered horribly. 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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