ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. - UPDATE: The victim in this story has died. Click here for the full update.
A Florida man is facing a felony charge after authorities said he punched another man at a Miller's Ale House restaurant, knocking him unconscious and leaving him brain dead, according to a report from the Orange County Sheriff's Office.
Deputies said 28-year-old Benjamin Hernandez Jr., of Sebring, heard the 51-year-old victim and his wife arguing Tuesday night at the patio bar of the Miller's Ale House on West Irlo Bronson Memorial Highway and confronted the man about how he was acting toward his wife.
When the man said something to Hernandez, Hernandez punched him in the face, knocking him down and causing him to hit his head on the floor, the man's wife told deputies.
Witnesses said Hernandez then tried to leave the restaurant, but the man's wife screamed for someone to stop him while she waited with her husband, according to the report. Hernandez then returned to his seat and waited for deputies to arrive.
When deputies arrived at the restaurant, they asked Hernandez what happened. According to the report, Hernandez said he was having a few drinks at the bar when he noticed the man and his wife arguing and approached them in an effort to deescalate the situation.
Hernandez told deputies he's seen a lot of abuse in his family and did not want to see another man hurt a woman, the report said. A witness said they heard Hernandez say, "I'm not going to watch someone get abused."
The woman told investigators that she and her husband were arguing, but that he never got physical with her.
After being hit, the woman's husband was airlifted to Osceola Regional Medical Center in critical condition, according to the report. A doctor said the man would not undergo surgery and declared him "clinically brain dead."
According to the report, the doctor said the man's brain had herniated at the brain stem and he was not expected to survive.
Hernandez was arrested and charged with felony aggravated battery, according to the Sheriff's Office.
A spokesman for Miller's Ale House released the following statement regarding the incident:
“Our thoughts are with the guest who was injured, and we are assisting the sheriff’s department in any way we can. We defer all questions to them while their investigation is underway.”
--Jim Kuehnhold, EVP, Operations for Miller’s Ale House
No other details, including what instigated the fight, have been released.
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