Woman loses eye defending special needs teen from bullying

The woman underwent emergency surgery at the hospital, but it was unsuccessful in saving her eye. (KGO, Bianca Palomera, The Habit Burger Grill via CNN)
Published: Nov. 17, 2022 at 3:41 AM EST
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ANTIOCH, Calif. (KGO) - A 19-year-old woman will lose her right eye, due to an injury she suffered at work when someone attacked her as she was trying to help a teenager with special needs.

Bianca Palomera, 19, works as an assistant manager at The Habit Burger Grill in Antioch, California. Surveillance video from Saturday shows her being punched after she noticed a man in a group bullying a teen with special needs. The teen is related to a coworker.

She says her manager told her to tell the man to leave, and that’s when she stepped in.

“I was like, ‘Hey, just to let you know, it’s not right what you’re doing. They’re special needs,’” Palomera said.

She says the man then attacked her, the second punch he threw hitting her in the right eye.

“When he punched me, it kind of caught me by surprise,” she said.

Palomera immediately went into emergency surgery at the hospital, but it was unsuccessful in saving her eye.

Doctors were unable to save 19-year-old Bianca Palomera's eye after she was punched at work by...
Doctors were unable to save 19-year-old Bianca Palomera's eye after she was punched at work by a man who had been bullying a teen with special needs.(Source: Bianca Palomera, KGO via CNN)

“They kept asking me if he was wearing any rings because they didn’t think that a normal punch could rupture an eye,” she said.

But the punch Palomera received did.

“I’ve gone ahead and made the decision that it would be best to get a prosthetic eye,” she said. “It could potentially attack my good eye, so it would be best to just have it removed.”

Palomera and her family are staying strong in hopes police will catch the suspect. She says she was just standing up for a friend, someone who didn’t deserve to be bullied.

“Things may happen and not work out the way you want, but at least I feel good that he wasn’t harmed. I think it would have been a lot harder on him if he was the one that was attacked,” she said.

It’s unclear when Palomera will be able to work again. Her family set up a GoFundMe to help her with anything she may need.

Police say the case is being actively investigated. There is surveillance video of the suspect entering and leaving the restaurant, but police have not said if they’ve been able to make contact with him.

No arrests have been made.