Despite the surveillance video, eyewitness statements, and a victim in critical condition with more than 75% of his face chewed off, the family and girlfriend of Rudy Eugene stand by their belief that Rudy would never attack someone so viciously. According to ABCNews.go.com, Rudy's mother said, "I knew my son. Rudy will never, never do something like that. Somebody killed him, and they just go dump him."
Police believe that the meeting between Rudy and his victim, Ronald Poppo, was a chance encounter, occurring after Rudy dumped his car in South Beach. Police then believe he walked three and a half miles across the causeway, stripping off his clothes in broad daylight before attacking the homeless man, who was later identified as Ronald Poppo. Many law officers believe bath salts may have played a role in the attack, although it could take weeks for the toxicology reports to come back.
Rudy's mother, who once was involved in a violent incident with her son that resulted in him being the first person Tasered by North Miami police, believes her son was drugged and dumped in the area where he encountered his victim. She also thinks her son felt threatened by the homeless man, which resulted in the attack. Rudy's fiance also commented, "He did not abuse drugs. I don't understand. Somebody did something to him…that wasn't him."
Rudy was shot and killed by police after their requests to stop the attack where only responded to with growls, and he continued to chew the face of the homeless man.
The victim of this attack, Ronald Poppo was once a promising young man who had dreams of being president. Somewhere along the way, he lost his way and ended up homeless and living under the bridge where he was attacked. His family members had believed he was dead long before the news of this attack spread across the country. As he is homeless, he is also without health insurance.
Ronald Poppo will face a long hard road, if he survives the attack. His eyes, nose, and most of his face where bitten, with one source claiming he was left with little more than a goatee. He will need some sort of facial reconstruction. Dr. David H. Song, chief of Plastic Surgery of Chicago Medical Center, said, "His acute situation needs to be stabilized first. Human bites are notorious for infections and if his doctors can't control it, he could lose more of his face. Whatever dead tissue remains needs to be removed down to healthy bleeding tissue."
According to the surveillance video, Rudy attacked Poppo for 18 minutes, and the victim was disrobed from the waist down, kicked, punched, and eaten alive before Rudy was shot four times and killed. Poppo then sat up, covered in blood as paramedics rushed to him, placing him on a stretcher and transporting him to the hospital. The hospital, respecting his privacy, has been very tight-lipped about his condition.
Dr. Song said, "After he is stabilized you could go several routes. He may need to have free tissue transfer. That's a microsurgical free flap where you take a large area of vascular tissue from either the belly or the thigh. These areas have their own blood supply. Then, you would have to reattach those arteries and veins to the arteries and veins in the face or near the neck." The surgeries involved with this could take months, and even up to a year to perform. He could also be a candidate for a full facial transplant that would 18 to 20 hours, but he would first need a donor and lots of support. Dr. Song said, "That is a huge investment for an institution and society. Although the face transplant patients may look good the downside is they will have to be on expensive immune suppressive medications so that his body does not reject another person's face for the rest of his life. The cost could be hundreds of thousands of dollars a year. Someone is going to have to give him medication. He would also have to have good social support, psychiatric support. It's a huge production." For now, his doctors are merely trying to save his life.
Image courtesy of ABC News.
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