MIAMI (CBSMiami) – The mother of a man who died after he was set on fire Christmas night outside a gas station is suing its owners for not doing more to protect him.
Darrell Brackett, 44, and his girlfriend had just dropped off guests after hosting a Christmas night cookout and were on their way home when his van ran out of gas.
Brackett walked to the U-Gas station at 4700 NW 27th Ave. After filling up a portable container with gas, three men attacked Brackett, doused him in gas and set him on fire, according to his mother Bridget Brackett.
Brackett suffered severe burns over 75 percent of his body. He died February 15th due to the severity of his injuries.
Bridget Brackett said her son never spoke a word after he was horribly burned.
“I would talk to him and he would respond by nodding his head. I used to hold his hand and he would grab down and squeeze my hand,” said Brackett. “For two months I went through total anguish, total hurt. Every time I went to visit my son in the hospital, I wondered to myself how can I continue to do this.”
Detectives have questioned one man in connection to the attack.
Alex Cineas, 21, came forward but was not charged. A second man, Willie Summersett, 29, is also believed to have been involved and police are still looking for him.
Police have obtained surveillance tape of Summersett when he went to Hialeah Hospital to be treated for burns. A records check showed Summersett has an extensive criminal record. Cineas was also spotted on the hospital’s tapes along with the two other people suspected in Brackett’s attack.
Brackett’s attorneys point out the U-Gas station is located on the same street as the gas station where Trinard Snell was shot and killed in 2009. Te Snell Family received a $5.7 million verdict due to negligent security on the property.
Both gas stations are owned by the same company, which the attorneys say did nothing to improve security at either gas station after Snell was killed, according to the attorneys. They allege the company knows about the dozens of crimes committed at their 70 gas stations throughout Miami-Dade but have not done anything to make them more secure. The said at the U-Gas station where Brackett was attacked, there have been six robberies, 57 assaults and 20 narcotics.
“They are very good at selling gas and taking money, they are very bad about taking any responsibility for securing their gas stations or providing any security whatsoever for their patrons,” said attorney Todd Michaels.
Anyone with information on Summersett or the other two people involved in the attack are urged to call Crime Stoppers at (305) 471 TIPS.
Late Wednesday, Urbieta Oil Company issued a statement expressing sadness for Darrell Brackett’s death, and denying the claims made by attorneys for his family. The company said it makes a safety a priority and accused the attorneys for the Brackett family of making “dishonest statements” about Urbieta’s ethics.