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Missing Livery Cab Driver Found In Hospital Under Different Name

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After days of searching for a loved one, a Queens family says he was in a hospital all the time under the wrong name. NY1's Mahsa Saeidi filed the following report.

Last week, the search was on for Claudia Leal's husband, Israel Nunez.

Police say the 47-year-old livery cab driver called his company last Thursday night to say he was on his way to pick up a fare. Then, he vanished.

"I was in complete agony, the uncertainty of not knowing where he was. The girls asking for their daddy," Leal said through an interpreter.

Leal said that she and her family were scared and confused for almost a week. They feared they'd never see Nunez again. They called police. They filed a missing persons report. They went to all the area hospitals with his picture, including Jamaica Hospital.

"We asked with his photo, his name," Leal said through an interpreter. "Security told us, 'No one by that name.'"

Six days after he went missing, Leal got word that Nunez had been at Jamaica Hospital the whole time. She said a hospital worker saw a Spanish TV report about him and made the connection. Leal said his skull was fractured and he was disoriented, although it's not clear just how he was hurt.

So why was she told he wasn't there? Leal showed NY1 paperwork that listed Israel Nunez's first name as Daniel.

"I am still trying to figure out who made this mistake," Leal said through an interpreter. "Was it the ambulance? Whoever filled out the paperwork? The police? Or the hospital?"

The paperwork was filed by first responders who brought him to the hospital. It said that Nunez himself gave his name as Daniel.

The responders said he carried no ID, although his family insists he had his checkbook, with his name and address clearly listed.

In any case, Leal said the hospital should have checked when she showed up with his last name and photo.

She said she blames the hospital, responders and police.

"As Hispanics, sometimes police don't pay attention to us," Leal said through an interpreter. "Perhaps if I had more influence somehow."

In a statement, Jamaica Hospital said it can't comment on the case because of strict patient-confidentiality regulations, but that they are very happy that the family and patient have been successfully reunited.

Leal said her husband is awake and in stable condition at Jamaica Hospital.

No date has been set for his release.

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