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Caretaker leaves adult client ‘with the mental capacity of a child’ to die slowly in hot car: Police

Authorities in California have criminally charged a hired driver who allegedly left an intellectually disabled man to die in a hot car last summer.

According to the San Gabriel Valley Tribune, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office filed a criminal complaint against Emanuel Arellano, 25, for involuntary manslaughter and elder abuse charges (as the victim was a dependent adult) in connection with the August 2018 death of Timothy Cortinas, 51. Non-profit group Easter Seals reportedly hired Arellano to take Cortinas to and from his group home but he allegedly went to his West Corvina home—leaving Cortinas in the vehicle—after dropping off two other clients at their respective homes.

Cortinas had a severe intellectual disability disorder, infantile autism, a seizure disorder and was “borderline non-verbal and had the mental capacity of a child,” the complaint stated, according to KTLA.

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Arellano is accused of leaving Cortinas in the car for several hours as outside temperatures that day reached 93 degrees. That evening, a neighbor reportedly saw Cortinas’ unresponsive body inside the parked car and called Los Angeles police. KTLA reported that paramedics pronounced him dead in front of the driver’s home shortly thereafter.

An autopsy confirmed that Cortinas succumbed to hyperthermia and that his death was an accident. The San Gabriel Valley Tribune reported that the deceased man’s mother filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Arellano, Easter Seals, and the San Gabriel/Pomona Regional Center in October of last year.

Authorities have declined to comment on the case until after Arellano is apprehended and taken into custody.

“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,” the family’s lawyer said in a statement to KTLA.

“Arellano deserves the maximum sentence the law allows.”

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[Featured image: Timothy Cortinas/KABC video screengrab]