A U.S. woman attacked by a crocodile in Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco, on July 18 was saved after bystanders and a hotel worker ran to her aid and fought off the reptile.
Kiana Hummel, 18, and a friend had gone to the beach for a late-night swim at the Marriott resort when a three-meter crocodile bit her right leg and dragged her screaming into the water.
Hummel’s friend and four brave onlookers fought the reptile. A hotel employee armed with a piece of wood hit the crocodile, which forced it to release its victim.
From her U.S. hospital bed, Hummel described the struggle and thanked those involved. “I’m pretty grateful that people were there to help me … I don’t think I would have gotten out [without them] … It didn’t want to give up. It went for my right leg and pulled me under the water and then went for my left leg and pulled me back into the water again,” she said.
High school teacher Sarah Laney, 34, came to her assistance after hearing screams. “It was really a tug-of-war. It was four or five times. We’d get her a foot out of water, and then it would pull her back in,” she said.
Laney explained that the rescuers had to change tack after the crocodile’s determination became clear. “After about 30 seconds of reevaluating the situation, we all decided we needed to start throwing things at it. It wasn’t letting go … We were throwing shoes. We were throwing rocks. We were throwing anything we could find, but it wasn’t anything big enough,” she added.
Her mother, medical assistant Ariana Martínez, described the injuries, which she said could have been much more severe. “She managed to survive with no missing toes, no missing limbs, no broken bones, just massive muscle and tendon damage … Obviously a big chunk (of skin) has been taken out,” she said.
Marriott spokesperson Kerstin Sachl said the hotel chain was aware of the incident and that protocols had been followed adequately. “The safety and security of our guests and associates are our top priority, and we can confirm that appropriate signage, as well as night patrolling and red flags were and are properly in place … Our staff is trained in how to respond to safety matters appropriately. We encourage all guests to be vigilant for their safety,” she said in a statement.
In a report by NBC News published Tuesday, Martínez confirmed that Hummel was still in hospital, and it hadn’t been confirmed when she would be discharged.
Last month, a similar attack occurred in Puerto Escondido, Oaxaca. Two sisters from the United Kingdom were on a tour of a lagoon when a crocodile attacked one of them. The other sister sprang to action, punching the animal in the nose until it left.
With reports from NBC News