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TUESDAY August 30, 2022: Pulitzer winner ZUMA Press photographer Renee C. Byer and Pulitzer winning writer Melinda Henneberger both staff at The Sacramento Bee, tackle another important story. Mark Rippee, 59, blind, mentally ill and homeless, lost his vision at age 24, after a motorcycle crash caused a serious head injury. His sisters fought to get him into treatment. He resisted. And official after official cited California's involuntary treatment laws in explaining to his family why there was nothing they could do. Welcome to 'BLIND REJECTION'
© zReportage.com Story of the Week #851: TUESDAY August 30, 2022: Pulitzer winner ZUMA Press photographer Renee C. Byer and Pulitzer winning writer Melinda Henneberger both staff at The Sacramento Bee, tackle another important story. Mark Rippee, 59, blind, mentally ill and homeless, lost his vision at age 24, after a motorcycle crash caused a serious head injury. His sisters fought to get him into treatment. He resisted. And official after official cited California's involuntary treatment laws in explaining to his family why there was nothing they could do. Welcome to 'BLIND REJECTION'
MARK RIPPEE, 59, appears lifeless as he sleeps on a sidewalk in Vacaville, when his sister Linda Privatte, 65, spotted him in the early morning. His shopping cart was filled with mostly garbage that she cleared out before giving him a hot breakfast of eggs and coffee with sugar.
© Renee C. Byer/Sacramento Bee/ZUMA Press Wire
LINDA PRIVATTE, 65, caresses her brother Mark Rippee's hand as she gently tries to wake him up on a sidewalk in Vacaville. 'Is it okay for me to clean your cart out for you so I can see what you need?' she asked.
© Renee C. Byer/Sacramento Bee/ZUMA Press Wire
MARK RIPPEE, 59, who is blind, rests on the ground holding a cigarette in Vacaville. He said he needs someone to give him a ride to look for apartments and a job.
© Renee C. Byer/Sacramento Bee/ZUMA Press Wire
MARK RIPPEE, 59, who is blind and mentally ill, rests on a broken broom he uses as a cane and a shopping cart that holds all of his belongings in Vacaville. He lost his vision at age 24, after a motorcycle crash caused a serious head injury. His sisters struggle to find him help.
© Renee C. Byer/Sacramento Bee/ZUMA Press Wire
MARK RIPPEE'S fingernails reflect his life living on the streets of Vacaville. His 65-year-old twin sisters who do not have a car, try to visit and care for him when they can.
© Renee C. Byer/Sacramento Bee/ZUMA Press Wire
A homeless man walking by taunts MARK RIPPEE, 59, as his sister LINDA PRIVATTE, 65, visits with him on the street in Vacaville. She is concerned about a new injury to his head and would like her blind, schizophrenic brother to live in a safe place where he isn't beat up and stolen from anymore.
© Renee C. Byer/Sacramento Bee/ZUMA Press Wire
LINDA PRIVATTE patiently waits as her brother MARK RIPPEE who is blind and mentally ill, rants on the sidewalk while she was visiting with him in Vacaville. 'When he was in a nursing home for 8 1/2 months he made vast improvement. We thought that was our proof that he had been treated with medication, that he had been fed and he had been housed and the difference was amazing and then they put him right back on the streets' said Privatte.
© Renee C. Byer/Sacramento Bee/ZUMA Press Wire
MARK RIPPEE, 59, rubs his eye socket, saying that while his eye is gone he can still feel something inside. He became blind at age 24, after a motorcycle accident that also caused a serious head injury.
© Renee C. Byer/Sacramento Bee/ZUMA Press Wire
MARK RIPPEE, 59, eats a lunch of two McDonald hamburgers, fries and a milkshake while sitting on the sidewalk near Lincoln Corner apartments in Vacaville. He says he wishes he could get into an apartment and have someone help him with his transportation issues.
© Renee C. Byer/Sacramento Bee/ZUMA Press Wire
LINDA PRIVATTE, 65, guides her blind brother MARK RIPPEE, 59, who recently lost his broken broom stick he used as a cane in Vacaville. She says he has been living near the Solano County Health & Social Services building for 15 years but they have yet to help him.
© Renee C. Byer/Sacramento Bee/ZUMA Press Wire
LINDA PRIVATTE, 65, guides her brother MARK RIPPEE, 59, who is blind and mentally ill, across an intersection in Vacaville. 'He has delusions that won't allow him to leave this particular area. It's all that he remembers before he went blind,' said Privatte.
© Renee C. Byer/Sacramento Bee/ZUMA Press Wire
MARK RIPPEE, 59, smiles as he jokes his twin sisters are hypochondriacs and are always saying they are more sick than they really are.
© Renee C. Byer/Sacramento Bee/ZUMA Press Wire
MARK RIPPEE, 59, who is blind and homeless uses a broken broom stick as a cane as he navigates along Monte Vista Avenue in Vacaville. He has been hit by cars and police have been called to rescue him from walking into traffic.
© Renee C. Byer/Sacramento BeeZUMA Press Wire
MARK RIPPEE goes behind a bus stop in Vacaville to urinate in a cup and complains there are no bathrooms. Rippee is blind, schizophrenic and homeless.
© Renee C. Byer/Sacramento Bee/ZUMA Press Wire
After exchanging 'I love you' back and forth, LINDA PRIVATTE and her brother MARK RIPPEE embrace on the sidewalk in Vacaville. 'It's hard to leave because then it makes me feel guilty and it makes me feel like I'm just as bad as our U.S. mental health system' said Privatte as her eyes welled with tears.
© Renee C. Byer/Sacramento Bee/ZUMA Press Wire
Sitting on the sidewalk, MARK RIPPEE, 59, holds a tube of toothpaste before brushing his teeth near a bus stop on Markham Avenue, where he hangs out frequently in Vacaville.
© Renee C. Byer/Sacramento Bee/ZUMA Press Wire
MARK RIPPEE, 59, brushes his teeth in Vacaville. Blinded after a motorcycle accident at the age of 24, he is homeless and often is beaten up and has his belongings stolen while trying to survive on the streets.
© Renee C. Byer/Sacramento BeeZUMA Press Wire
MARK RIPPEE, 59, rests on the side of a bus stop after urinating outside in Vacaville. 'I would like to see my brother receive treatment for the no fault brain disease that he has. I would like to see him have safe housing. He just needs someone to care for him' said his sister Linda Privatte.
© Renee C. Byer/Sacramento Bee/ZUMA Press Wire
MARK RIPPEE, 59, shields his face from the sun while trying to take a nap in the shade along Markham Avenue as a pedestrian waits at a bus stop in Vacaville.
© RRenee C. Byer/Sacramento Bee/ZUMA Press Wire
Mark Rippee's twin sisters CATHERINE RIPPEE-HANSON, left, and LINDA PRIVATTE, both 65, say he needs treatment for his severe mental illness and feel California's system has failed him. Linda finds it harder and harder to get out to see him. Because she's lost sight in one eye and has no depth perception in the other, she has never been able to drive. Many of those who used to bring her to Mark have either moved away or dropped out of her life. 'Some people who took me weren't prepared for what they were going to see' she said.
© Renee C. Byer/Sacramento BeeZUMA Press Wire
Linda Privatte said that this is where her brother Mark Rippee gets dropped off after his hospital or doctor visits in Vacaville, even though she's told the social workers this is not where he lives. She says he has been living around this area for the past 15 or so years.
© Renee C. Byer/Sacramento Bee/ZUMA Press Wire
Renée C. Byer :: zReportage Photo

Renée C. Byer is an American documentary photojournalist best known for her in-depth work focusing on the disadvantaged and those who otherwise would not be heard. Byer’s ability to produce photographs with profound emotional resonance and sensitivity earned her the Pulitzer Prize for feature photography in 2007 and made her a Pulitzer finalist in 2013. Renée has covered local, national, and international stories for The Sacramento Bee since 2003. Renée work has been published in books, magazines, newspapers, and on websites worldwide and was the basis for a 2009 TEDx Tokyo talk that received a standing ovation. Renée’s most recent book project “Living on a Dollar a Day: The Lives and Faces of the World’s Poor,” invites you to help put an end to global poverty. Renée traveled to 10 countries on four continents to report on this story, with a forward by the Dalai Lama. The book has won numerous accolades worldwide, including the IPA’s First Place for a Documentary book. Byer’s reportage is proudly represented by ZUMA Press and been featured in award winning zReportage.com a record ten times, as well as DOUBLEtruck Magazine. When not on assignment, Renée can be found sharing her passion for photography at lectures and workshops worldwide. Renée C. Byer lives in Sacramento, California, USA.:851



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