A self-made businessman in Florida is now suing Ford and Roush after a fiery accident sent his health and business up in smoke.
Robert Hetsler, who lives in Jacksonville, has been left with horrific burns and a long road to recovery after his modified Ford Mustang caught fire in November of 2017.
While Hetsler is an avid collector of cars, the Roush Mustang was actually a gift to one of his younger employees who Hetsler described as a hard worker. With the employee unable to afford such a vehicle, Hetsler got the Roush so that the young man could acquire the vehicle of his dreams with no interest- just minor contributions from his salary. In addition, he was allowed to live with Hetsler at one of his properties, where his cousin also resided.
These were just a few of the many gestures Hetsler is known for, as he has expressed his belief in paying it forward.
Prior to giving the vehicle to his employee, Hetsler kept the vehicle at his home. Taking the car out for a little break from his busy life at home, Hetsler went for a little drive in the Roush.
Despite getting a respite by way of a cruise through town, Hetsler stopped in a bank parking lot to rest for a moment.
Suddenly, the Roush inexplicably malfunctioned and was quickly engulfed in flames.
In the blink of an eye, a well-to-do titan of picking oneself up by one’s bootstraps was covered in third and fourth-degree burns, choking on toxic smoke.
A subsequent arson investigation would reveal that the fire was spontaneous and quick-burning in nature, effectively giving Hetsler no time to escape.
His life forever changed, Hetsler was put into a medically-induced coma to save his life, despite having less than a three percent chance of survival. Several days later, his now ex-wife -though they were separated and living apart at the time- liquidated his assets and filed for separation.
Upon coming out of his coma, Hetsler returned to a very different world. His home was filled with squatters after his employee and cousin abandoned it, his assets had vanished and his clients were suing him for being unable to access their investment proceeds.
While Hetsler admits that he should have come up with more robust contingency plans, he was in no way prepared for the smearing he would receive by way of local media- and the cold shoulder he would get from Ford and Roush.
In fact, an attorney for Ford claimed that a recent Supreme Court ruling in another Ford case meant that his chances of success were slim due to jurisdictional constraints.
Spending some time in a wheelchair, Hetsler used sheer willpower to deny doctors’ assumptions that he would never walk again.
Empowered by his slow recovery and experiences, Hetsler is now several years into his quest for justice- and the answers are almost just as nonexistent as when he came out of his coma.
Despite all the setbacks, Hetsler has found new meaning in his second chance at life. Dedicating his life to inspiring people, Hetsler has begun writing his book and will soon be speaking around the country.
In a time where “hope” seems to be more of a punchline than a tangible virtue, Hetsler is rising from the ashes, determined to ensure that others do not sink into the abyss of low morale that he crawled out from.