Car's automated assistance snitched on hit-and-run suspect

Ben Hooper
A car's emergency button. Photo by bernie_moto_photo/
A car's emergency button. Photo by bernie_moto_photo/

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla., Dec. 4 (UPI) -- Police in Florida said a hit-and-run suspect was arrested after she was ratted out by an unusual informant: her own car.

Port St. Lucie police said motorist Anna Preston was taken to a hospital with back injuries Monday afternoon after she was rear-ended by a black vehicle that left the scene without stopping and a call came in about the same time from the automated emergency assistance system installed in a Ford vehicle.


The automated call said the Ford had been involved in a crash and a dispatcher pressed 0 to speak with the vehicle's occupant, who claimed there hadn't been an accident. The occupant, Cathy Bernstein, told the dispatcher she hadn't been drinking and did not know why the emergency assistance system had activated.

Police visited Bernstein's home, where they discovered her vehicle had extensive front-end damage, a deployed airbag and the remnants of silver paint that matched Preston's car.

Bernstein initially claimed to have struck a tree, but eventually admitted to rear-ending Preston's vehicle and fleeing the scene, police said.

Police said they determined Bernstein had been fleeing the scene of an earlier accident when she struck Preston's car.


Bernstein was arrested on a hit and run charge and taken to a hospital, where she encountered Preston.

"I saw her in the hospital," Preston told WABC-TV. "I just went by, and I'm assuming she had a worse night than I did."

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