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Authorities find body in truck with sick father, son

By Kim Segal, CNN
The incident snarled traffic on heavily traveled I-95 for hours on Monday.
The incident snarled traffic on heavily traveled I-95 for hours on Monday.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: Father charged with aggravated child abuse
  • No identification has been made on the body, which was found in a bag
  • The son is in serious condition; the father is in intensive care
  • Florida's Department of Children and Families is involved in the case
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Read more about this story from CNN affiliate WPBF.

Miami (CNN) -- A Florida father found in a contaminated pest control truck with his seriously injured son and a bagged body has been charged with aggravated child abuse, authorities said Tuesday night.

George Barahona, 53, will likely face other charges from the "complicated" investigation, said Chase Scott, a spokesman for the West Palm Beach Police Department.

The incident began Monday morning when a pest control truck pulled to the side of Interstate 95 in the West Palm Beach area. Firefighters called to the scene found the man and boy suffering from some type of illness, Scott said.

Barahona and his son, Victor, 10, were rushed to hospitals in serious condition, Scott said.

The father is in intensive care in another hospital, but is lucid and has talked with investigators, police said. The charge is related to his 10-year-old son.

The boy suffered burns and injuries from inhaling unknown contaminants, Scott said. "He is in a difficult medical condition" and is in isolation.

"He did suffer some burns from the chemicals that were on his clothing and his body," Scott said.

Investigators found in the rear of a truck a somewhat deteriorated bagged body.

Workers had to don emergency hazardous materials outfits and wrapped the body twice more to limit exposure. The workers were later decontaminated.

Police don't know how long father and son were exposed to the toxins, Scott said. "They were incredibly toxic chemicals."

The body was taken to the county medical examiner's office for positive identification, said Scott, adding investigators have an idea of who it might be.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation is examining the truck and chemicals, Scott said.

The entire vehicle, which was emitting fumes, is covered in unidentified chemicals, according to Scott. The FBI has been asked to assist; it is taking samples to identify the makeup of what Scott described as a highly toxic liquid.

Neighbors of Barahona told reporters that he is an exterminator.

Within the past few days a child protection investigation had been opened to look into a complaint involving the Barahona family, said Florida Department of Children and Families spokesman Mark Riordan. The agency is responsible for investigating allegations of abuse, abandonment and neglect of a minor.

He would not elaborate on the nature of the complaint in this case, but said the agency has investigated complaints about the family in the past, "Several times we've been out to the home," he said.

The Barahonas had adopted four children, including Victor, from Florida's foster care system, Riordan said.

Police have spoken with Victor's mother, Scott said.

"We're in the preliminary stages of an extremely tragic, complex set of circumstances," Riordan said. "We're working side by side with law enforcement from two jurisdictions to make sure from DCF's perspective that the children are safe."

To ensure their safety, the "remaining" children have been removed from the family home and have been placed with a close relative, Riordan told CNN. He would not specify how many children were removed.

Law enforcement officials in West Palm Beach are handling the death investigation, while authorities in the Miami area, where the Barahona home is located, are looking into the family and the safety of the children, Riordan said.

Scott said some firefighters became sick from fumes coming from the vehicle, but they have all been treated and released. A guard and others at the hospital where the boy was taken also complained of feeling ill.

CNN's Shawn Nottingham contributed to this report

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