A man whose young son died last week after he accidentally ran over the boy will be released from jail on Thursday long enough to attend a memorial service.
As ministries and advocacy groups raise money to send the body of 4-year-old Angel Gustavo Hernandez to his mother’s home country of Honduras for burial, Rutherford Funeral Home in Powell has agreed to hold a service at 7 p.m. Thursday.
Natividad de Jesus Hernandez, 30, an undocumented immigrant, has been charged with leaving the scene of the accident. The State Highway Patrol has said Hernandez was at a home-construction site on Brock Road in Union County on Thursday to steal scrap material to sell; as he pulled out of the gravel driveway in the family’s minivan, Angel either got out of or fell from the van, and Hernandez ran over him. The patrol said the child was not secured in a booster seat or seat belt as required by law.
Angel died at OhioHealth Dublin Methodist Hospital a short time later.
After the accident, Hernandez was left alone with his girlfriend’s two young children by the side of the road after all emergency workers, including a deputy sheriff, left in the ambulance with the boy. Hernandez drove away, too.
Sheriff’s department records show that a cruiser arrived eight minutes after all the other personnel had left to find Hernandez also was gone. He arrived at the hospital about two hours later and was arrested.
The story drew international attention after Marysville Municipal Judge Michael J. Grigsby set a $500,000 bond for Hernandez, who is in the United States without documentation. Court records indicate Hernandez gave authorities several different birthdates and had three fake IDs when taken into custody. Immigration officials have said they have prepared paperwork to begin deporting him to his home country of El Salvador.
Immigration advocates and Latino organizations said the bond is too high for a third-degree felony.
Hernandez’s attorney, Scott Culbert, said he will take responsibility for his client during Thursday’s service, picking him up at the Tri-County Regional Jail in Mechanicsburg and then taking him back.
“The bottom line is that a grieving father gets to say goodbye to his son,” Culbert said. “No one should ever be denied that chance.”
A fund has been set up to help the family with funeral expenses here and to cover costs to get Angel to Honduras, where his mother lives. Robin Schuman started a central Ohio ministry called the Manger several years ago. She runs a Christmas store for the poor that has served a large number of Latinos.
“This story is absolutely heartbreaking,” she said. “I can’t get that little boy out of my heart.”
By yesterday afternoon, the website she had organized with the help of leaders in the Latino community and Culbert had raised $700.
Also yesterday, several government offices, including an ombudsman for the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services, had reached out to the office of the Honduran Consulate in Chicago to see about paying for or arranging the transport of Angel’s body.
To donate to the memorial/burial fund for Angel, visit www.gofundme.com/SendAngelHome. The service on Thursday is from 7 to 9 p.m. and is open to the public. It will be at Rutherford Funeral Home, 450 W. Powell Rd., Powell.
By Holly Zachariah - The Columbus Dispatch, Ohio (MCT)
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