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Miami face-eating attack: A first look at victim -- and questions

June 12, 2012|By Rene Lynch

Photos released Tuesday reveal the extent of injuries suffered by Ronald Poppo, the homeless victim who was attacked by a naked man in broad daylight on a Miami street last month. The attacker, who was gnawing on the helpless Poppo's face, refused to stop until police gunned him down, killing him.

The bizarre, unprovoked attack garnered headlines around the globe. Until now, Poppo's wounds had only been described by the media.

But experts at Jackson Memorial Hospital's Ryder Trauma Center on Tuesday released two images underscoring just how badly Poppo was savaged. One of the images is seen above, showing Poppo being helped about by hospital staff.  

In short, Poppo no longer has a face.

The lower part of Poppo's face appears somewhat normal. He is even sporting a salt-and-pepper mustache. But from his forehead down to that mustache, he appears to have suffered a great deal of damage. He lost his left eye in the attack, and his right eye is so severely damaged that he might be left sightless. 

"His nose looks like a pulverized mass of cartilage," reports the Miami Herald, which covered a news conference Tuesday afternoon at which doctors discussed Poppo's recovery.

In addition to his many facial injuries, Poppo, 65, suffered two mysterious puncture wounds to his chest.

That disclosure by Nicholas Namias, head of trauma at Jackson Memorial Hospital's Ryder Trauma Center where Poppo is being treated, suggests that Poppo could have been injured by the very officers trying to save him, the Herald reports. The bizarre Memorial Day weekend attack horrified the nation with its grisliness.

Those wounds -- no matter the source -- appear relatively minor compared with the rest of Poppo's injuries.

It is still unclear what provoked the attack.

Toxicology reports have not been returned on the assailant, Rudy Eugene, 31, who was shot and killed by police called to the scene of the attack. Friends and relatives said they were shocked to hear that the man who often traveled with a Bible and attended church with his mother was responsible for such an act. His girlfriend told the media that she wondered whether he had fallen under a voodoo curse.

Despite all his injuries, which include brain damage, Poppo is slowly improving. "Awake and alert," Poppo is even following the Miami Heat's championship bid, the Herald says.

The hospital is soliciting donations to help defray the costs of the indigent man's care.

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Join Rene Lynch on Google+ or Twitter. Email: rene.lynch@latimes.com

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