A New York father who allegedly accidentally left his one-year-old twins in his car on an 80-plus-degree day while he worked an eight-hour shift made a tearful appearance in court and is now on suicide watch.
Juan Rodriguez, 39, of Rockland County, allegedly told investigators that he thought he had dropped his two daughters off at daycare before heading to his hospital job in the Bronx Friday where he worked an entire eight-hour-shift as a social worker, the Associated Press reports. He is reportedly an Iraq war veteran and works with other veterans at his job.
“He carried on with his day,” Prosecutor Jaime Breslin told the judge at Rodriguez’s arraignment, the New York Post reports. “He forgot his children in the seats.”
After he finished work, he got in his Honda Accord and realized his alleged fatal mistake. He then sought out help. The children were found dead, still in their car seats.
“I blanked out. My babies are dead. I killed my babies,” Rodriguez reportedly cried out to investigators when they arrived on the scene.
He was reportedly visibly distraught.
“This is a tragedy of horrific proportions,” his lawyer, Joey Jackson said in court, the New York Post reports.
Rodriguez was still distraught and sobbing at his arraignment Saturday night in the Bronx. He pleaded not guilty to two counts each of manslaughter, criminally negligent homicide and endangering the welfare of a child. He was released the same day on $100,000 bail. The judge asked for the father to be put on suicide watch, WHDH reports.
As he was released, his wife met him with open and welcoming arms, according to the New York Post. She attended the arraignment with the couple’s 4-year-old child.
Rodriguez was described as “an amazing guy. He’s always been there for his kids. Always. This is just a horrible situation. The family isn’t doing so well,” his friend Temple Barros told the New York Post.
Rodriguez is due back in court Aug. 1.
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