Man with 'mental capacity of 2-year-old' dies after being left inside hot car as temperatures hit 93 degrees
Authorities are now seeking 25-year-old Emmanuel Arellano for involuntary manslaughter and elder abuse in the death of 51-year-old Timothy Cortinas
A man has been charged in connection with the death of an intellectually disabled man with the mental capacity of a two-year-old who died after he was left inside a car on a hot summer's day in 2018.
According to the San Gabriel Valley Tribune, which cited a criminal complaint filed on Friday, May 31, with the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office, the authorities are seeking 25-year-old Emmanuel Arellano for involuntary manslaughter and elder abuse in the death of 51-year-old Timothy Cortinas.
Attorneys representing Cortinas' mother had previously filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Arellano, Easter Seals, Holy Family Children's Care, and the San Gabriel/Pomona Regional Center, who were responsible for his safety and transportation, in October 2018.
In the lawsuit, they stated Arellano was hired by nonprofit group Easter Seals to transport Cortinas to and from his group home for daily activities.
On August 3, 2018, he allegedly dropped off two other clients at their homes before driving to his own West Covina home and leaving the 51-year-old inside the car in an afternoon when temperatures soared to 93 degrees.
It was nightfall by the time the 25-year-old's neighbors called the authorities to report their concern and deputies with the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department found Cortinas' motionless body inside the car.
Coroner officials pronounced Cortinas dead at 8:16 pm that evening, with a subsequent autopsy determining that he died of hyperthermia, which is death by elevated body temperature. However, the death was ruled by coroner officials as an accident.
Cortinas' mother, Irene Melendez, said her son had the mental capacity of a two or three-year-old and that he would not get out of a car if no one told him to do so.
Her lawsuit similarly stated that Cortinas suffered from severe intellectual disability disorder, infantile autism, seizure disorder, and was "borderline non-verbal and had the mental capacity of a child."
The recent criminal complaint against Arellano was filed on the basis he knew Cortinas was a dependent adult and states he knowingly put the 51-year-old in a situation that would inflict "mental suffering, great bodily harm, and death."
Kamran Shahbi, one of the attorneys representing Melendez, said the criminal complaint and the charges were "one more step toward justice for Timothy Cortinas and his family."
"We are pleased the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department agreed with us that Arellano’s negligent care of Timothy—leaving him to slowly die in a sweltering car on an August day when the outside temperature reached 97 degrees—amounts to involuntary manslaughter and abuse of a dependent adult," he said in a statement. "Arellano deserves the maximum sentence the law allows."