It’s been nearly six months since 89-year-old Bob Plumb was attacked with a machete in downtown Courtenay, but he still recalls the moment vividly as if it happened yesterday.
“I remember I was cut up so badly – I looked like Frankenstein’s monster,” he says softly with a slight sense of humour.
“They rushed me to Campbell River (hospital) for plastic surgery, and the surgeon made me look like Robert Redford. They did a wonderful job.”
In the early morning hours of July 31, 2019, Plumb was the victim of the unprovoked attack while waiting for the drop-off of a newspaper bundle. It was a routine he performed every day, delivering a daily publication to the various Comox Valley businesses.
He was approached by a man on a bicycle who asked him for a cigarette. Plumb told the man that he did not have any cigarettes before the man assaulted him with a machete.
Despite being unable to see out of his left eye and cuts on his hand and face, he drove himself to the Comox Valley RCMP detachment to report the attack.
He was immediately taken to hospital in Courtenay. Shortly afterward, he was transferred to the hospital in Campbell River for plastic surgery before returning to the hospital in Courtenay for months of recovery.
Plumb says the surgeries “went like clockwork” but his injuries and the recovery were initially difficult to process.
“It was a little hard to swallow. The loss of my eye and part of my hand was the hardest. I’ve lost the use of my right hand because the tendons were cut when I was hanging onto the sharp blade. Two fingers don’t bend and my thumb doesn’t bend – and I’m right-handed.”
Due to the attack, he is now blind in his left eye. His retina was detached completely, and he was told he had a one in 100 chance that he would ever regain his vision.
After spending four-and-a-half months in hospital, he made the decision not to have additional surgeries on his hand. He said each surgery would require about six months of post-operative treatment, which he decided against.
Plumb has been out of the hospital for about four weeks and lives by himself with some assistance from home care services, who come to his house four times a day to ensure he takes his medication. He also has help once a week for cleaning.
“I wasn’t too worried (in hospital). The thing is, it was a bit hard to take with the loss of my eye and hand, but with medication, I came out of it. I (did lose) my driver’s licence.”
As for his attacker, Plumb notes he gave a good description to the police and adds he doesn’t want to seek revenge on the individual.
“I just would like to see him off the street. As long as he’s off the street, that’s good. I’m just grateful it wasn’t my daughter who got the blade.”
Comox Valley RCMP spokesperson Monika Terragni says for the last six months, investigators from the detachment’s Major Crime Unit have been diligently gathering evidence and following up on leads.
“Every investigation is unique in the challenges it may present and this one is no different. The time required to complete an investigation is based on many factors, including the nature and complexity of the allegations and the characteristics of the evidence trail.”
She adds the assault remains an active priority for the unit and investigators are dedicated to solving the crime.
Plumb credits the RCMP, first responders, his family and “practically everyone in the city” for the support he has received.
A crowdfunding campaign (now disabled) was created shortly after the attack; more than $31,000 was raised to assist Plumb in his medical recovery.
Now at home, Plumb is not letting the incident slow him down, despite not being able to drive.
“I wasn’t just home for Christmas, I went to my grandson’s place in Port McNeill,” he adds enthusiastically.
RCMP is asking the public for anyone with information about the incident to contact them at 250-338-1321.