Miami Man 'Fighting for Life' Following Christmas Torching

Darrell Brackett was doused with gasoline and burned on 75 percent of his body.

December 27, 2012, 11:08 AM

Dec. 27, 2012 — -- A Florida man is fighting for his life after being doused with gasoline and set on fire on Christmas in a horrific attack that has baffled police.

Darrell Brackett, 44, was driving with his girlfriend at 11:30 p.m. in Miami when his car ran out of gas and he walked to a nearby U-Gas station to fill up a can of gas. He told his girlfriend to wait for him in the car.

After leaving the station, "witnesses reported that they saw him running in the middle of the street on fire," Miami-Dade Police said in a statement.

Brackett's mother Bridgett Brackett said she has been told that her son was surrounded by three men who "doused him with gas and set him on fire."

"It's heartbreaking. It's horrendous," Bridgett Brackett told "I would never imagine that this would happen to my son."

An unidentified woman who was passing by spotted Brackett and helped him roll around in the sand and dirt near the road to put the fire out.

"If she hadn't done that, he would have burned to death," his mother said.

Brackett was taken to Jackson Memorial Hospital where he is in the burn center's intensive care unit.

Earlier in the day, Brackett and his girlfriend had had a cookout and visited with his mother and family. Now, his mother was rushing to his hospital bedside.

"He was semi-alert. He could hear me, moving his eyes and thrashing around in the bed," she said.

He suffered from burns on 75 percent of his body, including his legs, torso and face.

"He has no skin left on his body," Bridgett Brackett said. "The only things that didn't burn were his feet and short jeans."

Brackett was originally in extremely critical condition and is now in stable condition after being placed in a medically induced coma, his mother said. She said doctors plan on using cadaver skin to reconstruct his skin.

Doctors will be watching him closely over the weekend, hoping that he does not develop an infection, which could cause him to take a turn for the worse.

"My son is fighting for his life...It's touch and go right now. We're just seeing how things progress and keeping up hope," she said. "I believe in God. My son is a fighter."

Brackett said authorities told her that his son had kept repeating one thing about his attackers when authorities arrived on scene, "The only thing I did was ask a question and they didn't have to do this to me."

Police said today that they have not yet identified a motive or any suspects in the case.

"Based on the preliminary investigation, the Miami-Dade Police Department Arson Squad is investigating this incident as a possible attempted murder," police said in a statement.

Darrell Brackett works for a landscaping company and his mother said her only son would not have done anything to deserve the attack.

"He's a fun-loving guy," she said. "He doesn't bother anybody. He was just going about his business."

The Brackett family has made flyers about the incident and will be canvassing the neighborhood around the gas station in hopes of finding anyone who may have seen the incident or have more information. They are also looking for the woman who helped save Brackett in order to thank her.

"Nobody can imagine how a person could be so cruel to another human being for no reason," Brackett said. "It's sad how the world has changed so much."

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