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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – A hotel employee who was critically injured during a September carjacking in the valet area of the JW Marriott Marquis in Brickell is suing the valet company.
“I said ‘God help me, help me.’ And that’s when the fire department came,” Jean Alix Jean-Simon exclusively told CBS4’s Natalia Zea as he recalled the incident.
Jean-Simon has gone through months of reflection and recovery. Yet, he still tears up when he remembers the moment he was pinned between two vehicles in a carjacker’s desperate attempt to get away.
His family was on his mind as he stumbled away from the scene before collapsing inside the hotel lobby.
“I cannot breathe, I cannot breathe. I was in so much pain and I think, God this is my last day,” he said. “My little boy, who’s only 12 years old, was almost fatherless.”
Jean-Simon works as a loss prevention officer for the high-end hotel and came running when police said Alberto Ruiz was trying to carjack a Lexus from the valet area.
Security footage showed Ruiz staring at the vehicle, while the valet assisted the owner grab her belongings. Suddenly, Ruiz hopped into the SUV and reversed, hitting two people.
That’s when Jean-Simon spoke to him through the driver’s side door.
“I said to him, ‘you have to wait until the police come because you are trying to steal a car that isn’t yours.’ He said ‘I’m not trying to steal no car, I’m just inside the car.’”
The carjacker suddenly reversed again while Jean-Simon was still holding onto him. Jean-Simon fell and was pinned, causing critical internal injuries to his liver and spine.
“He has pain every day of his life now,” said Jean-Simon’s attorney, Brandon Stein.
Stein filed a lawsuit on behalf of Jean-Simon against Park-1 LLC Monday morning.
He said the valet was at fault and wants the company to pay up for it.
“The door should not have been open, with the keys in the ignition, and unattended. It should not have happened that way, and we want to prevent it from happening again,” said Stein.
Jean-Simon is back at work on light duty and doesn’t know the long term impact of his injuries. But he does believe he’s fortunate his phone was in his breast pocket to cushion part of the hit. Above all else, he is grateful he survived.
“If he spent one more second to keep backing up I would have been short of breath. Oone second saved my life,” he said.
CBS4 News tried to reach a manager from Park-1 for comment on the recently filed lawsuit, but the calls were not returned.
The accused carjacker, Ruiz, remains locked up at the Turner Guilford Knight Correctional Center without bond.
He faces eight felony charges including robbery, carjacking and aggravated battery with a deadly weapon.
His trial is set for February.
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