San Diego

The Bag Lady of Pacific Beach, who was brutally beaten last week in a public restroom, was resting comfortably Tuesday after undergoing surgery to reconstruct her face.

Known as “Joanne” to beach residents who regularly saw her push her shopping cart up and down the streets of Pacific and Mission beaches, the woman had become a fixture on the beach scene.

It took doctors about five hours to complete the surgery, said Diane Yohe, spokeswoman for Scripps Memorial Hospital.

The woman’s cheekbones were so badly broken that surgeons needed to take a section of bone from her hip to rebuild that part of her face, Yohe said. She is expected to be hospitalized at least another two weeks.

The Bag Lady, who hospital officials said is Joanne Rutledge, 55, was attacked nine days ago in a public restroom in the 700 block of Pacific Beach Drive.


Booked into County Jail on suspicion of committing the attack was Jose Herrera, 26, an illegal alien.

Scores of get-well cards and gifts have been received at the hospital. In addition, about $2,800 has been collected in her name at the Scripps Memorial Foundation.

Yohe said that the money sent to the foundation, at P.O. Box 28, La Jolla 95038, will not jeopardize the woman’s ability to receive state assistance to pay the hospital bill.

Many of the cards that have been sent to the hospital are from children, Yohe said. One such card, she said, depicts a heart drawn with red crayon that states: “I’m sorry you got beat up. Get well.”