After an accused terrorist struck and killed eight people on a Manhattan bike path with a pickup truck rented at a Home Depot, the parents of one of the victims are suing the hardware chain for failing to more thoroughly screen the driver.
Barbara and James Drake of New Milford, New Jersey, filed the suit against Home Depot after their 32-year-old son Darren Drake was fatally struck by Sayfullo Saipov, as he drove his rental truck down the Hudson River bike path last Halloween. Saipov is accused of intentionally hitting people on the bike path with the truck in an attempt to kill them. He has pleaded not guilty to federal murder and terror charges.
The Drakes' lawsuit alleges Saipov was able to rent the truck despite having a Florida driver license -- which would technically be invalid if the accused terrorist had lived in New Jersey for more than 60 days.
"Home Depot knows that box trucks are the terrorist weapon of choice since 2014," said Rosemarie Arnold, the attorney representing the Drakes. "So what is Home Depot doing to make their rental business safe for the public at large?"
Stephen Holmes, a spokesman for Home Depot, said the hardware chain worked very quickly to help law enforcement with the investigation.
"Despite the fact that we disagree with the suit, our hearts go out to all the victims of this tragic event," Holmes said in an emailed statement.
Whether the lawsuit against Home Depot moves forward will be up to a court, but Barbara and James Drake say their legal action is already having one of its intended results: getting policy makers and the public to talk about a gaping hole in the nation’s security. The Drakes say it is time for authorities to consider creating a “no-rent” list, similar to the way airlines have cooperated with federal law enforcement to create a no-fly list.
“When someone rents a truck, this is very important now,” said Barbara Drake. Her husband, James, said their mission is to save Americans’ lives by making it harder for terrorists to rent vehicles.
“If we can be part of saving another family this terrible, terrible grief we’re going through, that would more or less make us realize we’re worthwhile again."