Friday, December 08, 2006

Too Good For Gridlock

CBS 2 Investigates: Man Fakes His Way Out Of Sitting In Traffic Like Rest Of Us.
Click On Image below to watch the report.

Scott WeinbergerReporting.
(CBS) NEW YORK You see it all over the city, an unmarked car with emergency lights flashing trying to make it through traffic. But have you ever wondered while you're sitting in gridlock what the emergency was? A natural thought from drivers who on any given day deal with some of the worst traffic in the country -- average commute time 90 minutes -- is "this guy must be headed to a serious emergency."Or is he?CBS 2 caught up to one such unmarked car in a heck of a hurry.Scott Weinberger: "Can you tell me what emergency your are responding to?Man: "Excuse me?"Scott Weinberger: "What emergency are you responding to?"The man's name is Isaac Heschel. His official looking black Crown Victoria is his personal car. However, the lights and sirens he admits he paid someone to install. Heschel is a rabbi who volunteers his time as a chaplain to the MTA and Port Authority Police, but both agencies said he has no right to have emergency lights, or drive like this.Scott Weinberger: "Why do you have lights and sirens in your car?"Heschel: "There are reasons for that sir."We first learned of Rabbi Heschel's unusual driving habits from a home video sent to CBS 2 by a member of law enforcement who wants to remain anonymous. Sent with the tape was a note that claimed Heschel was putting pedestrians and other drivers in danger.We had to see for ourselves. So, on the ground and in the air we followed Heschel for days, and what we found was stunning.At crosswalks he used lights to move pedestrians along. And if traffic gets too bad he drives the wrong way up a street. Remember, he is not a cop. He is not going to an emergency.Heschel is actually a 47th Street diamond dealer with some multifaceted perks. Not only does he get to take the fast lane to work, a sweet free parking spot was always waiting for him. Heschel avoided tickets by using a special parking placards.Scott Weinberger: "Why don't you use the same placard everyday?"Heschel: "It's a matter, uh ... there's reasons for it."Scott Weinberger: "Can you tell me what they are?"Heschel: "It depends what I'm doing that day."It was on the way to the Diamond District that day we saw Heschel’s official looking car use the HOV lane to avoid a major traffic jam on the Prospect Expressway.When lights and sirens aren't enough, not even a tie up at the Lincoln Tunnel stops our reckless rabbi. The lights flash; he gets out and actually moves several traffic cones, and then drives past a Port Authority Police checkpoint without ever being challenged.Scott Weinberger: "What was the necessity for you to use your lights, to remove cones, to go through a closed entrance of the Lincoln Tunnel?"Heschel: "Sir, I don't think what I do I need to discuss with you."While Heschel seemed unconcerned, others were."It goes to show us that that we have some vulnerabilities from people who pretend to be official emergency vehicles," former FBI agent William Daly said. "They could be used to transport explosive devices."Once Heschel realized what our cameras had captured he changed his tune and said he was sorry."We all make mistakes and when I make a mistake I apologize, and that's basically what I'm saying to you," Heschel said.Because of his use of lights and sirens, both the MTA and Port Authority Police told CBS 2 they have decided to part ways with Rabbi Heschel.

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