Nederland man police say was intentionally set on fire released - 12 News KBMT and K-JAC. News, Weather and Sports for SE Texas

Nederland man police say was intentionally set on fire released from hospital

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29-year-old Zach Bailey was welcomed home Thursday by a swarm of friends and family, who greeted him with balloons and lots of love.

In just the past month and a half, Bailey has undergone an incredible transformation, after suffering 3rd degree burns to nearly 70% of his body.

"It's quite an experience, your body suddenly engulfed in flames," Bailey told 12News in an exclusive interview Friday.

On December 28, Bailey went to a home on Avenue G in Nederland to help an acquaintance of his, Micah Distefano, fix a truck. Bailey says out of nowhere, Distefano grabbed a bucket of gasoline and poured it on him.

"I was like 'What's going on? What are you doing, man? What is this?' Then about the second time I looked up... whoosh."

Bailey says Distefano threw a lighter at him, setting him ablaze.

"I started rolling around, throwing my shirt off, telling him to get off the truck, and I started screaming."
Bailey says he still doesn't know exactly what made Distefano attack him. There had been rumors that the two men had gotten into an argument over a woman, but Bailey says that's not what happened.
"There was no argument, ever. It was just friendly, friendly, friendly, gasoline, fire."

Distefano was arrested on January 16 and remains in the Jefferson County Jail, held on a $125,000 bond. He has been charged with aggravated assault with serious bodily injury. He faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted.

"He deserves life in prison... and he deserves to be tortured everyday," said Bailey's mother Kelli Keenan.

Bailey says he thinks Distefano deserves about 40 years in prison.

Treated for his burns at UTMB in Galveston, Bailey says doctors told him he would be there for at least 70 days, but was released after just a month.

"The doctors said I healed faster than they ever, ever thought I would," said Bailey.

He underwent six skin grafts, and is still covered in bandages, but says he feels good... for the most part.
"I can't move my hands like I used to, that's one thing I'm kind of scared of," he said. "You really have to concentrate on what hand, what finger you want to move, and it hurts to move it."
Bailey says playing video games has helped him regain coordination in his fingers.

He's scheduled to return to Galveston for a check-up on Monday.


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