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A New York Hero Falls From Grace

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Gabriel Leon Hernandez in action.

On September 22, 2010, a horrific crash on the Bronx approach to the Robert F. Kennedy Bridge in New York City was captured on video. As cars were speeding down the road, a merging tractor-trailer overturned, slid across 3 lanes and rammed a minivan against the median, trapping the driver.

What happened next was truly an act of courage. A man in a black Ford Expedition swerved to the side of the road, got out of his car, checked on both drivers and proceeded to help the occupants out of their vehicles - right on the side of a busy highway.

That helpful man is Gabriel Leon Hernandez. And he was arrested Wednesday morning for events directly related to the accident.

Hernandez was charged with insurance fraud, grand larceny and falsifying business records, according to the police. Allegedly, Hernandez falsely claimed in the weeks after the accident occurred that he was rear-ended by the truck and duped his insurer into paying $21,000 in medical bills and $1,200 for work on his vehicle.

As you can see in the video below, Hernandez's Expedition was clearly not touched by the truck.

According to police, Hernandez truly did undergo body work on his Expedition, but it was for pre-existing damages. Similarly, he underwent shoulder surgery shortly after the accident, but for an allegedly pre-existing condition. Hernandez, when confronted with the video evidence, claimed he was injured trying to remove an occupant from their vehicle. Police have not stated if they believe that claim.

 

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Gabriel Leon Hernandez in action.
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Lindsay Minerva

is a multimedia journalist. She is also a digital media student at the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism. In 2009, she graduated as a Benjamin Franklin Scholar from the University of Pennsylvania. Her work experiences includes positions in politics, public relations, and law.