Twin 1-year-olds died after being left in a hot car for 8 hours, father has been charged

By Amir Vera, Josh Girsky and Tatyana Bellamy-Walker, CNN

(CNN) -- Twin 1-year-old babies died Friday after they were left in a car for eight hours in New York, police said.

The New York Police Department said in a news release the boy and girl were found unconscious and unresponsive in the back seat of a Honda sedan in the Bronx. They were pronounced dead at the scene.

The children's 39-year-old father, Juan Rodriguez, has been charged with two counts of manslaughter and two counts of criminal negligent homicide, NYPD said.

While the twins were in the car, the father was at work at a nearby VA hospital, officials said.

Friday's temperatures in the area reached a high of the mid-80s, according to the National Weather Service.

The New York City Medical Examiner will determine the twins' cause of death, police said. They were identified as Mariza and Phoenix Rodriguez of Rockland County.

Juan Rodriguez is a social worker at the hospital, his friend, Temple Barros, 41, told CNN.

Barros said Rodriguez and his wife celebrated the twins' birthday this month.

"We had a huge birthday for them," Barros, the manager of an indoor skydiving business, said. "We had bounce houses, bubble machines. They went all out. They even had portable air condition machines to keep people cool.

"He's always been an amazing father. Whatever they need, he'll go out and get it."

He said the family has a "very bright" older daughter. The mother is "not believing what happened," he said. "Their parenting is amazing. I'm at a loss."

Barros added, "I literally just saw the twins a night before. Their daughter was waving at me in the window."

Hospital spokesman Jim Connell confirmed Rodriguez is an employee and offered this statement:

"The entire hospital community is saddened by news of this tragic event. While the situation is currently under the jurisdiction of local authorities, we offer our sincere and heartfelt condolences to the family. As matter of respect to the family during this difficult time, and with due regard to their privacy, we have no further comment at this time."

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