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Kin in DWI case found near LIE

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Victor Herrera, whose pregnant wife, son and sister-in-law were killed in Brooklyn by a police officer accused of drunk driving last month, was hospitalized Sunday morning after allegedly contemplating a leap off a footbridge over the Long Island Expressway, authorities said.

Police were notified just before 8 a.m. by a 911 call from one of Herrera's friends that the 26-year-old Brooklyn man was disconsolate and considering a jump off the overpass that connects Lefrak City with Rego Park at 99th Street and Horace Harding Expressway.

Herrera was reportedly sitting on a nearby sidewalk when police arrived. He was removed without incident to Elmhurst General Hospital, where he was kept overnight for observation, said hospital administrator Marisol Fuarez. She would not discuss Herrera's condition.

Oscar Herasme, Herrera's lawyer, said his client was not contemplating suicide. He said Herrera, who had reportedly been staying with friends in Lefrak City, had gone for a walk when he became dizzy because he has barely slept or eaten since his wife and son were killed.

On Aug. 4, Joseph Gray, an off-duty police officer, struck and killed Herrera's wife, Maria, 24, his son, Andy, 4, and his sister-in-law, Dilcia Pena, 16, as they crossed the street at Third Avenue and 46th Street in Sunset Park. Before Gray's minivan plowed into the three, he allegedly engaged in a drinking binge in a police precinct parking lot and at a strip club off limits to city cops, according to published reports.

Gray, 41, a 15-year NYPD veteran, resigned from the force last Tuesday. He faces criminal charges, including four counts of vehicular manslaughter and driving while intoxicated.

Maria Herrera was eight months pregnant when she was killed. Her baby was delivered by emergency Caesarean section but died after a few hours. Gray was initially charged with three counts of vehicular manslaughter, but Herrera called for the former police officer to be charged with the baby's death as well.

After extensive conversations with medical experts, Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes announced Tuesday Gray would face an additional vehicular manslaughter charge.

Hynes' announcement capped a busy week for Herrera. Last Thursday, he was stung by a report in the New York Post that he had beaten his wife, and that she had filed an order of protection against him. He denied the allegations at a news conference, saying the order of protection stemmed from a "one-time incident" and that "there was no pattern of abuse."

Reach reporter Daniel Massey by e-mail at Timesledger@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 156.

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