“For a very short amount of time, I thought he was a good guy. But he just went and turned berserk,” Ronald Poppo takes a moment and continues, “and I guess he took it out on me.”
Poppo delivered this deposition to two officers of the Miami police homicide division, just two months after Rudy Eugene viciously attacked him on the MacArthur Causeway. Now, four years have passed, and the Causeway Cannibal is an urban legend come to life anecdote used by mother’s against drugs everywhere to warn of the dangers of getting high.
Though the unfortunate event has been repressed by most of us, let’s go back and revisit exactly what went down and we learned from that harrowing 26th of May.
Ronald Edward Poppo was a homeless man settled under a tram bridge crossing the MacArthur Causeway. The last thing he remembered from that day was seeing a very disturbed and naked Rudy Eugene, 31, walking towards him. Poppo heard him mumbling a few words of nonsense until he began mashing Poppo’s face into the sidewalk and gouging out his eyes as if he were crudely tendering meat he would soon consume.
Eugene began chewing on Poppo’s face, and shortly after, the Miami police charged the scene. Cops were forced to shoot and kill Eugene because he wouldn’t stop his biting Poppo.
It was suspected that a synthetic cocaine drug known on the streets as “bath salts” caused the violent outburst. Later on, a toxicology report showed Eugene only had marijuana in his system; however, until the report was released, the nation underwent a bath salt hysteria.
Everyone believed that bath salts had caused Eugene to turn into some sort of zombie. People everywhere made sweeping generalizations that bath salts will get you so high that you’ll eat another human. That’s some drug.
Now, this may seem like a media train going off the rails, but there were detrimental affects of the misguided categorization of the drug. After the attack was widely reported on a national level, use of the synthetic drug spiked. A sales clerk at a smoke shop in Oakland admitted that after the attack, more shoppers inquired about the drug and where they could get it.
Sure, most of us heard the story and thought ‘man that sounds crazy, remind me to never try that.’ But for some young and impressionable drug users who are constantly chasing that next unknown high, being turned into a flesh eating zombie sounds like one hell of a party. And that is very bad because the synthetic materials in bath salts have extremely harmful effects. The drug can make users violently ill, extremely psychotic, and can even cause death.
Although the cause of Eugene’s violently meaty attack still remains unknown, it didn’t take long for bath salts to become synonymous with zombie. Maybe all the excitement came from cultural obsessions like The Walking Dead. Or maybe it was a simple idea that one reporter ran with, and the rest became history.
Now, Poppo is doing much better. He has been staying in a long-term medical facility that has offered him a bed indefinitely. He underwent many reconstructive surgeries and his treatment is complete. Although he doesn’t want any contact from the outside world, he recorded a video of himself playing the guitar and the Jackson Memorial YouTube page uploaded it.
You can check out the video of Poppo’s music skills below and listen to the 911 calls of witnesses of the attack, which also sadly point out how terrible our emergency call system is.
And remember, even if they weren’t technically responsible for the Causeway attack, bath salts are still dangerous, and should probably be avoided altogether.
(Photo: AP Photo/Miami-Dade Police Dept.)