Woman Crushed by Frozen Turkey Shows Mercy

ByABC News via logo
October 18, 2005, 7:59 AM

Oct. 18, 2005 — -- Victoria Ruvolo is the victim of a random act of violence, but almost a year after her attack, she is speaking out with a message of mercy, if not forgiveness.

"I truly appreciate the preciousness of life," Ruvolo told "Good Morning America" today. "Everyday when I wake up, I truly thank God for giving me another day, that I could see the beauty of everything."

Last November, Ruvolo, 44, was driving down the highway when a group of teenagers, driving in the opposite direction, hurled a 20-pound frozen turkey at her oncoming car.

When Ruvolo woke up from an induced coma two weeks later, she had no idea what happened to her.

"You know, I was worried," Ruvolo said of waking up in the hospital. "I didn't know who got hurt, and I looked around and I was like, 'Where am I? What am I doing here?' I went into the bathroom and when I looked in the mirror and I saw the tracheotomy (tube) in my throat, that's when it actually hit me, and I went, 'Oh my God. It was me!'"

Ruvolo's esophagus was caved in, both cheeks and her jaw were shattered. The socket of one eye was fractured, and she suffered brain damage.

Her attacker was Ryan Cushing, an 18-year-old college freshman at the time whom prosecutors described as "shy" and a "follower." He faced up to 25 years in prison if convicted, but Ruvolo stepped in and asked the judge to show mercy.

"I don't think that would have done him, myself or society any good," Ruvolo said of a lengthy prison sentence. "That would have made him more nasty and bitter."

Ruvolo was at the courthouse in August when Cushing pled guilty under a deal that would send him to jail for six months.

"He came over to me and his eyes started swelling up and he was starting to apologize," Ruvolo said. "And then he took me in his arms and the only thing I could do was comfort him. I needed that hug from him as much as he needed it from me."

Ruvolo said she told Cushing to "do good things with his life." The other teens involved in the prank pleaded guilty and received probation.

Ruvolo was back in court on Monday at Cushing's sentencing to read a victim impact statement. In it, she expressed that she had not forgiven Cushing or his friends, in particular because they never bothered to stop and help her or call for help.

"That was the thing that has always haunted me," Ruvolo told "GMA." "That is the thing that they hurt me the most -- that they didn't stop, that no one called 911, that I could have died that night."

Cushing wrote Ruvolo a letter asking her for forgiveness.

"She is the best," Cushing said. "And I love her."