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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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Geoffrey Gloak

may be one of the few people you meet who is always glad to talk taxes. He has spent 17 years immersed in government communications – almost entirely in the tax field. He currently serves as the Director of Public Relations at the New York State Tax Department. In each of Geoff’s positions, he has created opportunities to transform the communications environment for the benefit of the organization. Under his leadership, Tax Department public relations have shifted from a reactive focus to proactive outreach. Most recently, Geoff led the STAR Registration media campaign to assist 2 million homeowners with property tax relief while eliminating fraud. As a result of extensive press outreach, more than 300 articles were printed in daily papers alone, and broadcast media repeatedly covered the story in each corner of the state. Less than 5 months after launch, 2.3 million homeowners had registered for their property tax exemptions. Geoff (@gloak23) lives in Kinderhook with his journalist wife, Kristi Berner (@kristiberner), and 4-year-old daughter, Gemma, who is now proud to be able to write her name.