NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Two infant children have died in the Bronx after being left in a parked car for an entire day.
Authorities say the father of those children is in custody and now been charged with two counts of manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide of his twin babies.
Juan Rodriguez went before a judge at Bronx criminal court Saturday afternoon.
The 39-year-old could be seen early Saturday morning outside the 52nd Precinct in Fordham. Hours earlier, he had been taken into custody at the scene where EMS pronounced both of his children dead.
The Iraq War veteran appeared inconsolable in court and cried throughout his hearing.
He was released on bail Saturday evening and ushered into an SUV.
His lawyer told reporters Rodriguez is now on suicide watch.
“My client is inconsolable. He is beside himself in grief, and he’s been that way for a period of time, and I’m concerned about his mental health,” defense attorney Joey Jackson said Saturday evening.
According to NYPD sources, one year-olds Luna and Phoenix Rodriguez were found by the father unconscious and foaming from the mouth in the back seat at Kingsbridge Terrace and West Kingsbridge Road just after 4 p.m.
Prosecutors say Rodriguez dropped his 4-year-old son off at day care, but never took the twins to their day care center. Police tell CBS2 the father apparently forgot the baby boy and girl in the car Friday morning and went to work around 8 a.m.
“The vehicle had tinted windows, so it was almost impossible for anybody to notice that the children were there,” NYC Council member Fernando Cabrera said.
CBS2’s Ali Bauman has learned that Rodriguez works as a social worker at a nearby VA hospital. The 39-year-old began to drive away after his shift and veered off the road when he noticed his children had been in the back seat the whole time.
The distraught father called 911 but both children were pronounced dead at the scene, eight hours after being left in the sweltering car.
Family members left the Rodriguez home in Rockland County, escorted by Clarkstown police. They remained silent, but one door down, the Maayani family spoke to CBS2’s Tara Jakeway on their behalf.
“They loved their kids and that’s what we see from the outside,” Galit Maayani said.
“Lovely family. They were always out in the backyard saying hi waving hello,” David Maayani added.
Other residents in New City expressed shock and horror at the father’s mistake.
“I don’t have a clue what the guy was thinking. It was like 90 degrees yesterday,” Toby Kasser said.
“You don’t leave kids in cars, you hear too many stories.”
“It’s heartbreaking. I can’t imagine forgetting my kids in the car,” Tom Murray added.
The medical examiner still has to determine the twins’ exact cause of death.
Rodriguez is married and has three other children. Detectives reportedly believe the entire tragedy was an accident with horrific results.
The 39-year-old is due back in court next week.