Hit-and-Run Suspect Ratted Out by Her Own Ford Focus

Florida woman insisted she hadn't hit anything, but cops, 911 believed the car
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 7, 2015 11:19 AM CST
Updated Dec 12, 2015 4:15 PM CST
Hit-and-Run Suspect Ratted Out by Her Own Ford Focus
In this Jan. 13, 2015, photo, a compact Ford Focus is parked next to a line of pickup trucks at a Ford dealership in Ashland, Neb.   (AP Photo/Nati Harnik)

A driver accused of hit-and-run insisted she hadn't been in an accident when confronted by both a 911 dispatcher and cops, but officials believed the testimony of a reliable witness: the woman's own car. Anna Preston was driving in Port St. Lucie, Fla., on the afternoon of Nov. 30 when she was rear-ended by a black car that zoomed off after hitting her, WPBF reports. As police took Preston's report at the scene, a 911 dispatcher received an automated call from a vehicle emergency system in certain Ford vehicles; a feature that calls 911 if a vehicle's air bags are deployed. "This is 911, you've been involved in an accident?" the dispatcher asks in the recording obtained by WPBF. After a pause, a woman on the other end of the line replies, "No," followed by an insistent "Everything's fine." "Your car wouldn't call us if somebody pulled out in front of you unless there had been an accident," the skeptical dispatcher notes.

Cops traced the car to the home of Cathy Bernstein and noticed the car had sustained damage to its front, complete with silver paint matching that found on Preston's car, as well as a deployed air bag. At first Bernstein maintained she had hit a tree, but she eventually confessed to hitting Preston. Slate reports that Bernstein would have had to set up the emergency call-in feature in her Ford Focus herself—"a choice she's probably regretting now," the site notes. Preston, who suffered back injuries, tells ABC7 she saw Bernstein at the same hospital she was taken to. "I'm assuming she had a worse night than I did," Preston tells the station. Authorities discovered another twist: Bernstein had been rushing from another accident she was involved in when she hit Preston, per WPBF. Bernstein was taken to the St. Lucie County Jail after treatment, though the New York Daily News says she's been released. (San Francisco's "hot cop" was busted for hit-and-run.)

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