Story of the week; Miami Face-Eating Man

Okay so I’m sure by now you’ve heard it, quite possibly from my Facebook page where I’ve been making continuous updates since an hour after it was first reported to ensure everyone was up to speed on this horrific situation in Miami.

I can’t go another day without addressing this a bit more formally here because people are beginning to ask us what’s wrong with us and why are we ignoring this massive development with such obvious implications toward a zombie outbreak event.

Well, the reason I wanted to wait was because I wanted to make sure I had as much information as possible before I went and threw this out there like it was fact and also to give myself an opportunity to think about it in detail to really evaluate what this could mean for us in the long run.

In case you hid under a rock this weekend, here’s the story;

A naked man we now know to be 31 year old Rudy Eugene, was spotted on top of another man, now identified as 65-year-old Ronald Poppo, who was ALSO naked.  Eugene was on top of Poppo and was viciously biting away at his face, tearing pieces of it off in shreds.

A cyclist by the name of Larry Vega saw the attack and yelled at the man to stop.  He stayed at a distance and called for police.

“The guy was, like, tearing him to pieces with his mouth, so I told him, `Get off!’” Vega stated as he related his story to a Miami television station. “The guy just kept eating the other guy away, like, ripping his skin… It was just a blob of blood,” he said. “You couldn’t really see, it was just blood all over the place.”  He was also quoted to say he felt he had been traumatized, that these images would never leave him as long as he lived and he wanted nothing more than to get past it and stop talking about it.

When the police arrived, they yelled at the attacker to back off.  Rudy Eugene looked up at them, growled and went back to eating Poppo.

The police then shot 1 round.  This had NO effect on the attacker.  The police shot 4 more rounds and finally, the man fell dead leaving the victim a bloody mass, writing in pain on the ground.

All of this took place out in the open, Saturday early afternoon in Miami on a pedestrian path right off of a main freeway.  Surveillance video shows much of the attack and how it was clearly out in view of the public in this very populated area when many people were out and about for an event that was taking place nearby.

Sgt. Javier Ortiz, vice president of the Miami Fraternal Order of Police, stated it was among the “bloodiest and goriest scenes I’ve ever been to…. It was not only grotesque, it was just very sad, the amount of blood. It was very sad to see what happened to this gentleman that had his face eaten.”

Fraternal Order of Police President Armando Augilar stated he suspected that the attacker was under the influence of “bath salts.”

The important thing to note here, is he also stated four other drug use instances in Miami-Dade bear resemblances to Saturday’s attack.

“It causes them to go completely insane and become very violent” and apparently taking off their clothes is a tell-tale sign, Augilar told the CNN affiliate on scene.

The victim was rushed to the hospital, fighting for his life without ears,  eyes or a nose.  His face was unrecognizable and described as “a blob of blood” and “nothing but his goatee was left”.

It’s difficult to imagine the the fear and the pain experienced in this attack.  We see it in horror movies, but this wasn’t a movie, it was a random dude on the side of the road.  A real man who suffered a devastating crime and is now near death; not an Eli Roth masterpiece designed to make you cringe and laugh.

Stop and think about this for just one second; to lose both eyes, ears and all recognizable features in the matter of a few minutes in one of the most painful ways possible, to know you will be disabled for life because another human being ATE you.

Vega, the cyclist who called the police said the closest thing he’s ever seen to something like this was watching “The Walking Dead” and expressed that it was traumatizing seeing something so gruesome in real life.

Yes, on the surface this is stuff of horror movies and zombie comics.  Yes, this has the geek world on edge; wondering if it’s finally time to pack up the bug-out bag, load up the supplies and head out to the safe house.

Before we get all excited and gleefully stock up on water and canned goods, let’s just talk about this for a minute, shall we?  Pull away from the “zombie” implications here to recognize that this is a really sad, terrible event that has happened and I hope that as horror lovers world-wide giggle to themselves about the zombie in Miami, they stop a moment to realize a man literally had 80% of his face removed, his eyes, ears and nose eaten off and will be disabled for life because of a choice to participate in the use of a recreational drug.

This killer was not a “zombie,” this was a 31 year old guy who was described by his uncle Ives Eugene, as a “nice and hard-working” man who washed cars at a local dealership.

The likely cause at this point is a new drug which is gaining popularity in the US and Europe, inconspicuously called “bath salt” and is currently completely legal.  The official statements from medical personnel who have come across this drug in the past, report that although this is far from the desired effect, this is a typical reaction to the drug, not an exception.

In January of 2011, poison control reported that they had to deal with 248 “bath salt” related calls around the country.  The number in 2010 was less than half this number.  The Director of Louisiana Poison Center, Mark Ryan said, quoted from a Business Week article:

“If you take the very worst of…LSD and Ecstasy with their hallucinogenic-delusional type properties, [the worst of] PCP with extreme agitation…and combativeness, as well as the [worst] stimulant properties of cocaine and meth…this is what you get.  It’s ugly.”

Methylenedioxypyrovalerone, as it’s officially called, is considered a synthetic, designer drug gaining popularity because it is currently legal, as it’s classified under the same blanket as synthetic marijuana and can be purchased easily under many names such as “white dove”, “Vanilla Sky” and “Ivory Wave.”  The intended and desired effects are euphoria, a sense of peaceful calm and happiness, increase in energy and sexual arousal. Unfortunately while these desired results can be the hand a user is dealt, the other side of this beautiful experience is increased agitation and anxiety, uncontrollable rage and violent tendencies, paranoia of many varieties, increased strength and delusion.

So basically, this drug is legal, deadly and dangerous not only to those who take it but also to those who are anywhere near someone who is, because they might just turn into a Reaver.

That’s right folks; we’re talking Reavers here, not zombies.

A zombie, even the 28 Days Later, rage virus zombie, passes on it’s sickness via a bite or some other fluid exchange and is, in most mythos, dead.  A Reaver as seen in Firefly, is the result of a drug-induced psychosis that causes blinding rage and aggression, cannibalism and extreme violent and deviant behavior.  The only way to be safe from them is to stay as far from them as possible.  There is no fighting a Reaver, you only stay away and run as fast as possible.

If this drug catches on, which I am guessing it will, it won’t be walkers that we can casually run and hide from or a contagious rage virus that we can plausibly control with decontamination.  There will be no chance at the guilt-free “double tap to the head” of an already dead and reanimated body and no farm house, church or door in the country will be able to keep you safe because all it will take is one hopeful soul trying to escape reality for a while.

The reality here is this drug-related death needs to be put back into the context of its story and not scoffed at or compared to science fiction because its reality should not be taken lightly.

We need to do what we can to educate people about this drug, its dangers and its deadly part played out in this and other stories that didn’t make it into the media, before it continues.  Otherwise, it will only next time it could be a 12 year old attacking her grandmother or a mother who ate her babies or some idiot who gives it to a fighting dog hoping it will win.  The reality is far more horrifying than any possible fiction and we would do well to remember that as we talk about this.

The danger is very real and it won’t come at us in a half-decomposed, stumbling, white-eyed, soulless monster.  It will come in the form of those you know and love, far from dead but too far from us to ever return.  Welcome to the reality of our apocalypse, people.  It won’t be fun.

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	This combo made with undated photos made available by the Miami-Dade Police Dept. shows Rudy Eugene, 31, left, who police shot and killed as he ate the face of Ronald Poppo, 65, right, during a horrific attack in the shadow of the Miami Herald's headquarters on Saturday, May 26, 2012. Poppo was in critical condition Tuesday, with only his goatee intact on his face, the newspaper reported. <br /><br /><br />

Rudy Eugene, 31, left, Ronald Poppo, 65, right.