By Tara Law
July 27, 2019

Twin infants died in New York City on Friday after their father allegedly left them alone inside a hot car, police say.

The children, 1-year-old Luna and Phoenix Rodriguez, were allegedly left inside a Honda sedan for eight hours while their father worked a shift at a nearby hospital in the city’s Bronx borough.

A passerby called the police after he saw the father screaming on the side of the road, the New York Post reported. Emergency responders arrived at around 4:08 p.m. and pronounced the children dead on the scene, police say.

The father, 39-year-old Juan Rodriguez, was immediately taken into police custody and later charged with two counts of manslaughter and two counts of criminally negligent homicide. Police did not say why Rodriguez left the children in the car.

Temperatures reached a high of about 84 degrees in New York City on Friday, but the temperature inside the sedan likely rose much higher. Studies suggest that cars can quickly overheat when left in direct sunlight. The conditions can be particularly dangerous for children, who are sensitive to heatstroke.

About 38 children die of vehicular heatstroke each year, according to kidsandcars.org, an organization which tracks the deaths. Including the twins, 23 children have died in hot cars in the United States this year, the organization says.

Write to Tara Law at tara.law@time.com.

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