WESTWEGO – A family was both dealing with grief and fondly remembering their loved one Tuesday following a fire that left the wheelchair-bound man dead the night before.
Gary Bruney, 60, died in a horrifying fire that was witnessed, in part, by a 12-year-old whose family lived with Bruney as caretakers.
“Little girl come out hollering for somebody to help,” said Clarence Allen, a neighbor who tried to help. “He was ablaze in the doorway. We tried to get him out the chair and he just fell over. There was nothing we could do for him.”
Family members said the 12-year-old girl was "horrified" and was upset that she couldn't get around the fire to the bathroom to get some water to try to put out the fire.
Tuesday the investigation into Bruney's death focused on the motorized chair that he used to get around. Investigators told family members that there was no evidence of an explosion and no known recall on the model of chair. Currently, they are checking to see if it was an older model or if previous owners had tried to repair it.
The family swapped stories about Bruney, particularly, they said, about how he loved the ladies.
“He was always telling stories,” said Dawn Champagne, Bruney's niece. “Always talking about his girls, his women, his dates.”
The family said there was no life insurance or renter’s insurance for Bruney, so they have set up a GoFundMe account to raise funds.