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Man Arrested After News of Rescue

November 27, 1999

CHRISTIANSTED, U.S. Virgin Islands (AP) _ A man’s recent rescue of an injured worker in the U.S. Virgin Islands earned him lots of local news coverage as a hero. It also may have attracted police who had been looking to arrest him on drug charges.

Police arrested Luis Daniel Ayala Hernandez, 21, of St. Croix island, Friday morning on a U.S. Customs Service warrant for drug trafficking charges, U.S. Attorney Hugh Mabe said.

On Nov. 13, agents allegedly found 13.2 pounds of cocaine in Ayala Hernandez’s luggage at the airport on the Puerto Rican island of Vieques, Mabe said. He did not give details on how the man eluded airport authorities.

On Wednesday, Ayala Hernandez’s picture appeared in U.S. Virgin Islands newspapers along with stories detailing his rescue on Tuesday of a worker who was electrocuted on a utility pole when he touched a live power line. The man had been repairing damage caused last week by Hurricane Lenny.

Ayala Hernandez, barefoot and without a safety harness, scaled the utility pole to keep the injured man from falling off the pole before help could arrive.

``I wasn’t thinking of pain and I wasn’t thinking of myself,″ Ayala Hernandez was quoted as saying in The Virgin Islands Daily News on Wednesday. He told reporters that he was able to scale the pole swiftly because he used to climb coconut trees when he was growing up on Vieques.

The Virgin Islands’ Water and Power Authority had been planning to honor Ayala Hernandez at a ceremony Friday.

Federal officials did not confirm whether the newspaper articles alerted them to the man’s whereabouts.

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