MIAMI (AP) — A homeless man whose face was mostly chewed off in a bizarre attack alongside a busy South Florida highway is in good spirits, talking and walking with the help of hospital staff, doctors said Tuesday.
Ronald Poppo's left eye was removed, but doctors are trying to find a way to restore vision in his right eye. He will likely remain at Jackson Memorial Hospital's Ryder Trauma Center for several more weeks and will need more surgeries before he can explore the options for reconstructing his face.
Poppo, 65, is aware of the media coverage the attack has generated.
"He's pleased to report to all of you that he's feeling well, he's eating, he's walking around with physical therapy, he's talking with us," said Nicholas Namias, a University of Miami trauma surgeon and co-director of the center.
Poppo has been at the hospital since he was attacked May 26 by Rudy Eugene for reasons that are still unclear.
Emergency callers reported seeing a naked Eugene swinging from a light pole minutes before the attack. Surveillance video from the nearby Miami Herald building showed Eugene stripping Poppo and pummeling him. A witness described Eugene ripping at Poppo's face with his mouth and growling at a Miami police officer who shot and killed Eugene. Autopsy results are pending.
A close-up photograph of Poppo showed the upper two-thirds of his face covered in scabs and grafts. He's missing his nose and both eye sockets were covered, the left with gauze and the right with a flap of skin from his forehead and scalp. His gray beard was trimmed, leaving a mustache over his upper lip.
"It's hard when he smiles to see who he is," said Wrood Kassira, a University of Miami plastic surgeon at Jackson.
He also suffered two puncture wounds to his chest and a brain injury similar to what happens after a car crash, Namias said.
Poppo previously survived a gunshot wound.
Social workers will help try to help him find a place to live. He has been homeless for nearly 30 years, and he has faced multiple charges of public intoxication, among other arrests. According to the Miami-Dade County Homeless Trust, the last time Poppo sought help finding a place to sleep was in 2004.
"If he doesn't get his vision back then it becomes, is he concerned about how he looks or is it more about how the world sees him? Those are things to think about," Kassira said.
"I've talked to him about reconstruction and he's said we'll take it one day at a time," Kassira said. "He's very logical."
Poppo has talked about swimming, which he used to enjoy, and he has requested pizza, orange juice and Italian food to eat.
He's asked for the television to be turned off in his room, except to watch Miami Heat basketball games, Namias said.
The doctor said Poppo hasn't once complained about his pain.
"He's really just sort of living in the moment and just wants to talk about routine things," he said.
A fund established by the Jackson Memorial Foundation to assist Poppo has raised $15,000. Poppo also qualifies for Medicaid and Medicare, hospital officials said.
Also On Black America Web:
This Week’s Celebrity Instagrams (11/26-12/2)
30 photos Launch gallery
1. Little Legend and Puddy 😍😍😍😍
1 of 30
2. "You on point Phife?" "all the time,Tip". 💥 #bannedfromnormal
2 of 30
3. Vegan! The Impossible burger at Crossroads
3 of 30
4. Lawrence #BeforeandAfterEpisodes 1-4: 184lbs 13% body fatEpisode 8: 196lbs 8% body fat S/O @coachdaveboxing with the works outs and @kildareriordan with the nutrition
4 of 30
5. Jus haaaanngin out
5 of 30
6. Meanwhile back at home in Atlanta GA someone mad they not on the 🛳. 😳
6 of 30
7. No limits... Photo cred: Chris Bridges @ludacris
7 of 30
8. new new
8 of 30
9. Apparently my 260lbs is too much for the actual vines in the Hawaiian jungles to hold me without breaking and me falling hundreds of feet. So for safety purposes, I'm forced to swing thru #Jumanjj on wires strong enough to hold 12 adult buffaloes and 1 adult Rock. #OnSet #Jumanji #IronicallyIEatBuffaloDailyForLunch #MoreManThanNatureKnowsWhatToDoWith
9 of 30
10. hey ma! 🎎#wcw 💙
10 of 30
11. Surprise visit to our factories!!! #GoodAmerican #USA
11 of 30
12 of 30
13. Peachy Keen 🔥✨⚡️
13 of 30
14. If this don't look thankful I don't know what does. Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours. #UltraBlessed #24kMagic #SweetPotatoFly
14 of 30
15. Late nights @nbcmarlon with the writers... we in here!!!
15 of 30
16. There goes my baaaaaaaaabbbbyyyyy #QueenKingMagic!!! We're up to something! Ira BIG!!! Stay out our buisness -
16 of 30
17. You want to win every game you play but when you come home to these faces... who cares. #ILoveYouGirls best part of my day, everyday!
17 of 30
18. Steady,steady..... full size jenga.. "I got this one "???? Or do I ?
18 of 30
19. Cornrows kind of day 😉@dontaysavoy2 you convinced me and I love. ❤️️
19 of 30
20. #BrotherlyLove #tbt
20 of 30
21 of 30
22. #basel #TeamLOVE @kingcombs
22 of 30
23. Just introduced a special screening of @directher 's groundbreaking (must see) documentary @13thfilm with my brother @themichaelealy | @unitedblackout #blackoutblackfriday
23 of 30
24. Me & Vanessa Williams giving #DuckLips #Pose on the set of #DaytimeDivas @vh1 - Coming Soon to a tv near you. Lol. - My make up done by @makeupsurgeon
24 of 30
25. This picture just makes me wanna praise the Lord, you hear me!!!!!! Yes Lord brotha #TEDDYCAMPBELL What a #man !!! You are everything right on this picture husband ......... #gorgeous #stylish #classy #strong #masculine #king #sexy #debonair #gentlemenstyle And that #bible in your hand just seals the deal for me (probably cause i know that, that is what helped you become just as amazing as you look😘). While my heart and mind experiences the goodness of God at #church on Sundays, my eyes experiences the goodness of Teddy😍. Amen somebody🙌🏽. "Bless the Lord oh my soul and all that is within me bless his holy name" #myman #myhusband #goodman #blackman #dapperman #godlyman #goodfather #mybestfriend
25 of 30
26. Yesterday was my mama's 53rd birthday!!!!! Got to celebrate with her all day. If this is what I have to look forward to I can't wait. Looking like a soft bucket a cocoa butter. Yaaaaaaaaaas! 😍😍😍 love you mommy!
26 of 30
27. "Shout out to @PureAtlanta for getting the family right"....I'm loving this jogger. 😍😍
27 of 30
28. This pic warms my heart ❤️ #myLogiebeans and aunt aunt umba @itowandabraxton 😘
28 of 30
29. You will always be my baby😜. #HappyBirthdayReginae #mybaby18
29 of 30
30. GC "Gods Child" Red on Red SweatSuit available now at www.MonicaApparel.com ... Take Your Crown wherever you go!! I'm pictured in a Medium... Go to the site now for other options ... cc: @trukernell
30 of 30