EASTWOOD, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — The Syracuse Police Department now says the death of a one-year-old girl Dlyla Rolon, and serious injury of her parents, 36-year-old Joshua Rolon and 39-year-old Delilah Rodriguez, is believed to have been caused by carbon monoxide poisoning, as the car they were sleeping in was left running.
Onondaga County District Attorney, Bill Fitzpatrick, tells NewsChannel 9 the family had been evicted from their home, which is why they slept in the car, and they had been sleeping in it for several days prior to being found unconscious in the parking lot around of Grant Village Apartments, in Syracuse’s Eastwood neighborhood, Wednesday morning.
“There had been indication that they were discovered in the same location a day earlier and were told they had to leave,” said Fitzpatrick.
Police say the male victim’s condition is improving, and Fitzpatrick believes the dad is currently conscious. However, there is uncertainty as to the extent of his injuries. As for Delilah Rodriguez, she is now in good condition as of Sept. 29 after previously being in critical condition, according to Upstate Hospital.
“Despite resuscitation efforts, the female toddler was pronounced dead at University Hospital,” said Syracuse Police Sergeant, Thomas Blake.
Fitzpatrick said the age of the car — just shy of 20 years old — likely contributed to the poisoning.
“Our preliminary forensic examination of the vehicle shows there was a problem with the catalytic converter, and that someone, we don’t know who, possibly the father but we don’t know for certain, made some attempts to seal that to prevent gasses from escaping,” explained Fitzpatrick.
He adds that the car was loud while running, making it hard to believe a family could sleep through that.
Onondaga County Executive, Ryan McMahon, and his staff were aware of the family’s situation and had made arrangements for this family, offering to put them in a hotel if they desired, said Fitzpatrick.
“You know you can have all the agencies and all the people in the world, all the government agencies, nonprofit agencies, but eventually it’s a choice, you have to make a decision,” Fitzpatrick explained.
As for whether any charges might be filed against the parents, Fitzpatrick says no.
“I have directed that no criminal charges are going to be issued because they don’t serve any function in this particular case. This father, if he survives, is going to have lost his spouse and his child. There is no reason for deterrence. I can assure you this man will never live in his car again in his lifetime,” said Fitzpatrick.
He acknowledged the housing crisis in Onondaga County, but added this family was offered an alternative to living in their car.
In the future, Fitzpatrick wants to see the county legislature and county executive’s office work with landlords to give the tenants that are being evicted services available to them.
In this case, Fitzpatrick says that the landlord in this situation has been very cooperative.
Editor’s Note: NewsChannel 9 is now using the spelling of the toddler’s name released Thursday night by Syracuse police, but is aware there are conflicting spellings.