TWO Californian men have been charged with torturing and assaulting an Australian tourist who was thrown into a burning fire pit on a beach.
Robert Schneider, 26, was found in the surfside pit in Ocean Beach with third-degree burns on February 27, the Associated Press reported.
Police said the Adelaide electrician had been beaten with a skateboard then tossed into the fire.
The San Diego County district attorney’s office said today that two homeless men, 21-year-old Damian Maple and 46-year-old Frank Montoya, faced five charges and could be jailed for life if convicted.
Police alleged the men took turns beating Mr Schneider with a skateboard following an argument near a lifeguard station.
The attack left Mr Schneider in critical condition at UCSD Medical Centre. As well as broken bones, he suffered second- and third-degree burns.
His parents, Peter and Judy Schneider, flew from Adelaide to be with their son following the attack.
“He had staples on his head from where his head was smashed open,” said Mrs Schneider.
“He had a laceration on his forehead, his face. His wrist was broken.”
Mr Schneider was woken from a medically induced coma only this week.
It was believed Mr Schneider was in the Californian city to join a group of friends who were on their way to Mexico for a surfing trip.
Mr Schneider told the San Diego Union-Tribune last week that his son was “doing well”.
“He’s healing beautifully… there were many days we would just stand there and wonder and hold his hand.”
Two strangers moved by Robert Schneider’s plight are raising money for his recovery with an Australian-style barbeque at a San Diego eatery called Bondi Bar & Kitchen.
San Diego residents Carl Gregory and Roseann Lovine didn’t know Mr Schneider or one another but teamed up after seeing a story on the attack.