OSCEOLA COUNTY, Fla. — For the first time, we are hearing from the family of a motorcyclist burned in an explosive confrontation with Osceola County deputies at an Orange County gas station.
The stepmother of motorcyclist Jean Barreto, 26, spoke only to Channel 9 about everything that’s happened in the nearly three months since the fire burned 75% of Barreto’s body.
Surveillance video from the Wawa captured the moment an Osceola County deputy tackled Barreto off his bike at a gas pump. Deputies said he was part of a group of motorcyclists who had pointed a gun at and harassed other drivers.
The state fire marshal said the deputy’s Taser sparked the fire that left Barreto in critical condition.
Barreto’s stepmother, Frances Aponte, said she had to demand to see Barreto that night in the hospital and that doctors told her he was unlikely to survive the next day.
At the time, she said the family didn’t know what happened, why Barreto was in the hospital or why deputies were standing guard at the door outside his room at the hospital.
She said almost three months later she still doesn’t know. Barreto has never been charged or arrested.
Whatever it was, Aponte said the family deserves to know because it nearly cost Barreto his life.
“He is not going to be the same,” Aponte said.
When Aponte saw a missed call from Barreto’s girlfriend, she knew something was wrong.
“I was like, somebody hit him and, or he was involved in a crash or something like that. But I never realized something that big happened that night,” she said.
At the time she had no idea Barreto was riding with a group of bikers and said when she got to the hospital nobody would tell her what happened or let her see him.
“They said I had to wait until Monday, that Monday, to get information about my son because they said he was under arrest,” Aponte said.
When she did finally get in to see Barreto in the hospital, he was wrapped from neck to ankles in bandages.
She said the first thing he said was, “The police burned me.”
On Tuesday, Barreto underwent his sixth surgery since the fire.
She said there is no indication when he will leave the hospital and that he has a long way to go to recover.
Aponte said Barreto drives for FedEx and loves it. She said he keeps asking about his job and if it will still be there for him when he gets out.
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