A Forked River man who allegedly left his two toddlers alone in a hot car while he asked about membership in a Berkeley Township gym faces two counts of child abuse, filed by the Ocean County Prosecutor's Office.

Yordy R. Santanacastillo, 28, was charged Monday by Berkeley Township Police Detective Joseph Santoro and Detective Stephanie Baya of the Prosecutor's Special Victims Unit.

Investigators said that the incident occurred September 9 at about 4:40 PM, when the outside air temperature exceeded 90 degrees.

Witnesses told police that Santanacastillo parked in the lot outside Retro Fitness on Route 9 and left the children, ages 3 and 1, by themselves for about 19 minutes, with the windows nearly closed.

A spokesman for the Prosecutor's Office said that bystanders managed to maneuver through the space at the top of a window, open the door and let air circulate inside. Satanacastillo returned to find the commotion around his car, he said..

It's the second publicized incident of the kind within the past three weeks. A Lakewood woman was charged with child endangerment in Howell Township in late August, for allegedly leaving her infant in a locked car with the windows up while shopping.

In that instance, a retired first-responder broke the window with a sledgehammer to bring the baby into the store's air-conditioned entrance.

Santanacastillo was released on a summons pending an appearance in Ocean County Superior Court. The case was reviewed, and the charges were approved, by Senior Assistant Prosecutor Christine Lento.

Charges are accusations. Defendants are presumed innocent unless, and until, proven guilty in a court of law.

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