CHILD WELFARE

2-year-old who fell from Hialeah motel window dies

 

Melissa Sanchez

The young boy who fell last week from the window of a second-story motel room in Hialeah — where police also found traces of cocaine — has died.

Luis Enrique Rodriguez Jr., who would have turned 2 in October, was taken off life support on Thursday afternoon at Jackson Memorial Hospital. After administering a series of tests earlier this week to confirm that the boy was brain dead, hospital staff kept him on life support in order to harvest his organs for donation.

A representative from the Department of Children & Families notified Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Alan Fine of the boy’s death during a brief court hearing on Friday.

The child’s parents, Luis Enrique Rodriguez, 26, and Jacqueline Sanchez, 27, were not present at the hearing.

Fine received the news as part of an ongoing case on the custody of the couple’s second son, who is 5 months old. DCF took custody of the boy after Hialeah police began to investigate his brother’s fall from the motel window just before midnight Sept. 13.

The parents haven’t been charged in their son’s death, but police did charge Rodriguez and Sanchez with suspected child abuse after discovering traces of cocaine, as well as alcoholic beverages, in the room the family was renting at El Paraiso Motel, 1615 W. Okeechobee Rd.

Hialeah police spokesman Carl Zogby said the parents denied the drugs belonged to them. However, they told detectives the drug could have been left by a visitor to their hotel room. “Although we couldn’t prove the drugs belonged to them, the fact they had their children in close proximity to them is a form of child abuse,” he said.

For now, he said, the death appears accidental. “The circumstances surrounding the accident are disturbing, but so far the death of this child appears to be a terrible accident,” Zogby said.

Both Zogby and a spokesman for the Miami-Dade state attorney’s office said the investigation into the child’s death is still ongoing. Rodriguez and Sanchez were bailed out of jail this week.

This is not the first time DCF has investigated Rodriguez and Sanchez, said agency spokeswoman Lissette Valdes-Valle, who could not immediately release files or details on the prior case.

Rodriguez has been arrested at least five times since 2005 on charges including petit larceny, resisting an arrest without violence, driving with a suspended license and possession of marijuana, court records show.

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