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A Keys homeless man says he was beaten. He was airlifted to Miami.

A Big Pine man was airlifted to Miami on Sunday, July 7, 2019, after he said he was beaten.
A Big Pine man was airlifted to Miami on Sunday, July 7, 2019, after he said he was beaten. File photo

A Florida Keys homeless man was injured so badly on Sunday that he was airlifted to a Miami hospital, police said.

George Wesley Shaia, 52, of Big Pine Key, said he was talking to a woman at a homeless camp near 100 County Road when another homeless man “sucker punched” him in the back of the head.

The woman was found by police, who said she was too drunk to give a statement.

Deputies said Shaia had a cut on the back of his head and his left eye was swollen and turning purple.

But police aren’t convinced he was the victim of a fight.

Linhardt, who called the 11:30 a.m. incident an “alleged battery,” said detectives “are investigating whether Shaia was attacked or if he suffered some other medical emergency.”

Shaia was in stable condition at Jackson Memorial Hospital on Monday, said Adam Linhardt, the spokesman for the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office.

Shaia was helped by a local church worker who flagged down an off-duty deputy to help him, Linhardt said.

Gwen Filosa covers Key West and the Lower Florida Keys for FLKeysNews.com and the Miami Herald and lives in Key West. She was part of the staff at the New Orleans Times-Picayune that in 2005 won two Pulitzer Prizes for coverage of Hurricane Katrina. She graduated from Indiana University.
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