A publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Fundraiser for Northern Kentucky man violently attacked while teaching in Puerto Rico

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(Editor’s Note: Some readers had trouble donating through GoFundMe, though we are told that fixes are in the works. As an alternative to those who want to contribute John’s address is 10367 Banklick Road, Walton, Ky. 41094. A spokesperson said he would love to hear from anyone.)

By Vicki Prichard
NKyTribune reporter

In February, long before Hurricane Maria tore through Puerto Rico, violence tore John Eubank’s world apart.

Eubanks, a young man from Walton, who, for more than two years, had been teaching English in a high school in Puerto Rico, was robbed, beaten, and stabbed multiple times. His head was struck with a ball bat or metal object — cleaved open — and the 47-year-old teacher was left to die in a pool of blood in his home.

Back home in Northern Kentucky, John’s mother, Judy Eubanks had no idea what had happened that Friday night in Puerto Rico.

John Eubank, before his injuries (Photo provided)

The following Monday, she received a phone call from the principal of the school where John taught, saying he was concerned because John wasn’t at school.

“I told him to go to his apartment,” says Eubanks, who says she ‘just had a feeling.’

“He had to get a court order to get inside and they found John.”

The next phone call she received was to inform her that they had found him and weren’t certain he was going to make it.

“It was horrible,” says Eubanks. “They took him to the University Hospital in Puerto Rico, gave him blood transfusions and operated to relieve the pressure on his brain. They made openings across his head. He has stitches throughout three-quarters of his head.”

Judy and her son Robert left for Puerto Rico and by the time they arrived, things looked “terrible.”

“His eyes were black, he was thin, and he wasn’t awake,” says Eubanks.

After ten days in Puerto Rico, John finally woke up. The hospital wasn’t ready to release him yet though, and Eubanks needed to return home.

By her third trip to Puerto Rico, John was ready to be released. She brought him home and took him to UC Health in Cincinnati, where he spent three weeks and was later transferred to the Daniel Drake Center for Post-Acute Care, where he spent another three weeks. He finally was released to come home and received in-house treatment, and now outpatient physical and occupational therapy three times a week through St. Elizabeth Healthcare.

John’s diagnoses include, Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), Speech Aphasia, and paralysis on the right side of his body.

“He can’t carry on a conversation, which is not good for a teacher,” says Eubanks. “He’s lost his job, his apartment, and his belongings.”

A young man with a spirit of giving has been robbed of so much, and his road to recovery will be a long one. Most of his days he is confined to a wheelchair or bed.

“John never married and has no children. He was committed to teaching and was loved by his students,” says Eubanks.

Those students, she says, have sent letters of good wishes to their beloved teacher.

“While he was in Puerto Rico, the people were so nice and helpful — kind and generous — offering prayers for him,” says Eubanks. “These people were exceptionally nice.”

Now that John is home, Eubanks says he’s had many fellow classmates from his high school alma mater, Dixie Heights High School, visit him. Those visits, she says, are very important to him and she hopes friends will continue to visit and spend time with him.

One of those high school friends, Jeff Clare, along with other former Dixie Heights classmates, are holding an Open Mic Night Benefit at Hebron Lutheran Church at 3140 Limaburg Road, on Friday, October 13, at 7 p.m., to help raise essential funds to help John and his family make their home handicap accessible.

A GoFundMe page has also been created to help raise funds for the family.

Beyond those essential funds, Eubanks welcomes any and all good suggestions and wise counsel on how to help keep John’s spirits up during this difficult time — perhaps from others who have experienced similar traumas with loved ones.

“People come and see him, but if they don’t come back it breaks his heart,” she says. “Anyone who has an idea on how to help him, just reach out to me.”

Eubanks can be reached at 859-835-5523.

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