After being attacked by man who chewed off his face a year ago, Ronald Poppo is still blind and doesn’t have a nose. But that hasn’t stopped him from finding happiness.
“He is more than content with how he is,” said plastic surgeon Wrood Kassira. “He’s grateful.”
Doctors have offered to rebuild his face, including giving him a nose and glass eyes, but “he has shown no interest in that,” Kassira said.
“He’s happy with the way he looks right now,” the surgeon said.
Poppo, now 66, who lives at Jackson Memorial Perdue Medical Center in Cutler Bay, became famous as the victim of the Causeway cannibal, Rudy Eugene, who was shot and killed by Miami police after attacking Poppo on May 26, 2012, at the MacArthur Causeway.
Of Eugene, Poppo has said, “I’m sure that man had a bad day that day,” according to his chief therapist Patricia Copalko.
Poppo used to be a bass guitarist in a New York rock band and has once again taken up the instrument. His therapist said he practices daily. In addition, he listens to rock music on the radio and is a big Miami Heat fan.
At the press conference updating his progress, hospital officials revealed that Poppo is learning to dress himself and walk with a cane with tutelage from therapists from the Miami Lighthouse for the Blind.
While Poppo did not attend Tuesday’s news conference at Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami, his caretakers released photographs of him, as well as a YouTube video of him playing his guitar.
“I thank the outpouring of people in the community. I’ll always be grateful for that,” Poppo said on the video.
In the surveillance video that was released on the attack, a naked Eugene is seen confronting Poppo, then trying to pull off his clothes before brutalizing his face in a savage, 18-minute attack.
“He just ripped me to ribbons,” Poppo said during interview recordings obtained by CBS Miami. “He chewed up my face. He plucked out my eyes…”
After drivers and cyclists passing the scene called 911, a responding police officer shot and killed Eugene as he crouched over Poppo, ignoring the officer’s orders to stop chewing the older man’s face.
“[Eugene] was like a zombie, blood dripping, it was intense,” witness Larry Vega told the New York Daily News. “The closest thing I’ve seen to it? ‘The Walking Dead.'”