[WARNING: This story features a video and photos that may be considered disturbing.]
One year after having his face gnawed on by a man high on bath salts who came to be known as the “Miami Zombie,” victim Ronald Poppo is making progress in his recovery from the attack that almost claimed his life and left him blind.
Poppo, 66, was homeless and lying near the MacArthur Causeway when Rudy Eugene accused him of stealing his bible and then viciously attacked him. Eugene, whom police later said had taken bath salts, assaulted Poppo and repeatedly bit his face despite warnings from quick-responding Miami officers to stop. Cops were forced to shoot Eugene after he growled and continued to eat Poppo’s face.
The attack left Poppo blind and severely disfigured. He is still undergoing therapy at Jackson Perdue Memorial Hospital in Cutler Bay, Fla., near Miami.
In a Facebook post titled “Ronald Poppo: One Year Later,” the hospital posted photos of the 66-year-old celebrating his recovery and said he is “living happily and adjusting to his new life.” The post also detailed the progress Poppo has made since arriving at the long-term-care facility nearly one year ago.
“In the past year, he has gained more than 50 pounds. He continues to work with an occupational therapist who taught him how to dress himself, feed himself, shower and shave,” the post read. “He also was given a guitar, which he practices playing daily. He continues to see doctors at the University of Miami/Jackson Memorial Medical Center to treat his facial injuries.”
Poppo showed off the guitar, as well as his sense of humor, for a YouTube video released by Jackson Memorial.
“Good enough action shot?” Poppo asks at the beginning of the short clip, where he’s shown strumming the guitar.
Poppo said he wanted to make the video to “just generally say thanks for contributing and helping out.”
“People in my predicament need to be helped out, and I’m sure there’s other people that have the same kind of predicament,” he said. “I thank the outpouring of people in the community. I’ll always be grateful for that.”
YouTube users sent their well wishes to Poppo after viewing the video. Some of them said they were inspired by Poppo’s recovery one year after the Miami zombie attack and admired his strength in the wake of the brutal attack.
“I'm so happy to see you doing well, Mr. Poppo! We have been praying for you and rooting for you to get better every day!” wrote user brooklynlulu.
“Never give up, what a strong individual,” added supersnowyangel.