It was just last week that Juan Rodriguez dropped his four-year-old son off at daycare then parked his car near the veteran's hospital where he works. Rodriguez returned to his car after working his 8-hour shift and began to drive home. It was about 10 minutes into his drive when he noticed the lifeless bodies of his 1-year-old twins in the backseat of his car. Sadly, the twins Luna and Phoenix died as a result of being left in the hot car, and Rodriguez is now facing criminal charges of manslaughter, negligent homicide and endangering the welfare of a child, in their deaths.
A noticeably distraught Rodriguez appeared in court earlier this week, clearly guilt-ridden and seemingly trying to fathom how he could forget his children in the car. Rodriguez's lawyer, Joey Jackson, told CNN that a judge asked for Rodriguez to be put under suicide watch while he was in jail before he was released on bail. "His mental state is very fragile based on what happened. It's just an awful scenario," Jackson told CNN. "The (Rodriguez) family is ripped apart."
Juan Rodriguez pleads not guilty to charges for the deaths of his one-year-old twins, left in his hot car for hours. Prosecutors say Juan Rodriguez cried, "I killed my babies," after discovering them Friday afternoon. He told cops he thought he dropped them off at daycare. pic.twitter.com/xB0bv1uDNF— Amanda Bossard (@amandabossard) July 28, 2019
Rodriguez told friend Alfredo Angueira that he thought he dropped his twins off at their daycare that fateful day. "He couldn’t explain it," Angueira told the New York Times. "In his mind, he dropped them off." Rodriguez has been so devastated by what happened he reached out to David Diamond, a neuroscientist and professor of psychology in Florida who studies why and how parents are capable of forgetting their children in hot cars.
"He thought he was the only person who had ever done this," Dr. Diamond told the NYT. He said he explained to Rodriguez that he isn't the first person who has forgotten a child and that people from all walks of life have been guilty of doing the same. He explained that it's the result of memory function and not lack of love. "I think this has helped him in his time of grieving," he said, "to understand how it’s possible he could do this."
Although Rodriguez is still suffering from unimaginable grief, his wife is standing by his side. Marissa Rodriguez released a statement earlier this week to the press regarding the loss of her twins and the subsequent arrest of her husband. "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."
Twenty four children have died from being left in hot cars so far this year. Linda Ruban, a friend of Mr. Rodriguez who has worked with him for 10 years, told the NYT that he has been unable to eat or sleep since the accident, saying he told her, "I can’t believe that I would forget this — these are my children."