Georgia Laurie had to decide in seconds between saving her life or fighting for her twin sister, who was in the jaws of a crocodile. Now she reflects on what happened in the Manialtepec lagoon in Puerto Escondido, Oaxaca.
Melissa, Georgia’s sister, is recovering at a local hospital, as she was seriously injured during the event. Outside the hospital, Georgia gave her first statements.
“It was fight or flight and you fight for the ones you love,” said the 28-year-old Englishwoman who is a professional scuba diver.
Georgia said she didn’t realize the severity of her injuries until being evaluated at the hospital. She said that due to the adrenaline pumping in her body, she was unaware of her injuried until after arriving at the hospital. Until then, she had been concerned solely with the welfare of her sister.
Georgia also said her sister Melissa had come out of a medically induced coma that doctors placed her in to help her recover.
Georgia revealed that she had already seen her sister and that she is much better, although she cannot speak yet, due to a tube that was placed to help her breathe.
“They [the medical staff] said that when they were explaining the procedure to her, she [her sister] understood everything. She recognized me and knew who I was,” said the young woman.
She also indicated that she had asked the guide who accompanied them if it was safe to swim in the lagoon, to which he replied that it was, so she and her sister entered the water to swim. Later it was learned that the guide did not have a license to operate.
The guide was with a group of tourists who he was taking on a tour through the Manialtepec lagoon when he began to hear screams, both him and the tourists with whom he was accompanied. “We started hearing screams and noises,” he recalls. “And we saw that there were people screaming inside the mangroves,” he told British media Daily Mail in an interview.
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Escamilla Pérez left the tourists he was traveling with at a safe place and went to the area where the girls were screaming. “It is a dangerous area, even more so at this time of year because of the animal nests,” he told the media. “I heard them yelling, ‘Crocodile, crocodile.’
Another 16-year-old, named Moisés Salinas, who was hired to help in one of the boats in which the twins were traveling, said the sisters had moved away from the rest of the tour group, with two men also of English origin. “They were about 150 meters away and my boss told me: ‘Hey, go and tell them to come back,” said the young man.
“I spoke to one of the twins, but she thought they were fine. Everyone had been told about crocodiles and one of the things I said to her was, Don’t swim in the river.”
Despite the young man’s statements, the twins’ parents, Sue and Sean, both 63 years old, and not on the tour, said that they had not been warned of the dangers of swimming in the lagoon. “The girls specifically asked if it was safe to go swimming and the guide said yes,” said the sisters’ father.
Their mother, Sue, also gave her statement about how she found out about the attack that her daughter Melissa had suffered, and in which Georgia had to intervene, hitting the crocodile on the head to make it release her sister, which resulted in injuries to the abdomen, legs, and arms, although the most serious thing was the damage to her lungs. “Georgia called us at four in the morning and said she had to attack a crocodile because it had attacked her sister,” Sue said.
Another of the tourists who were in the group in which the sisters were traveling, told the Independent newspaper that the guides had told them that they were safe and that they could swim in the place, that “we cannot swim in the sea, but you can swim in the mangroves ”.
Guillermo Silva, civil protection coordinator in Puerto Escondido, Oaxaca, the place where the attack occurred, and who is investigating the events, told the Daily Mail that “the sisters and a group of Englishmen were not in an area that is usually visited by the tourists, it is further away from the Manialtepec lagoon and it is an area where we know that there is a concentration of crocodiles ”.
“This is not a tourist area, it is a crocodile nesting area,” he said.
Moisés Salinas remembers that one of the men ran back, shouting that there was a crocodile, “I jumped into the boat and got to where the ladies were. I could hear one of the girls yelling, ‘My sister! My sister!’ he said.
He also stated that upon arriving at the scene, Melissa, the woman who was attacked, “was conscious, breathing heavily as if she was struggling for air.”
The tour guide, Gerardo Escamilla Pérez, recalls that he saw bite marks. Her head was covered in blood. They thought the crocodile was close and would attack again.
“People were scared,” said Salinas. “A man had climbed a tree.” Among the group on the boat was a nurse, who helped put Melissa in a chair.
Her head was thrown back and blood was dripping onto the floor of the boat. The boat took 25 minutes to get back to the El Guayacán restaurant and an ambulance was waiting.
Luis Stein, Coordinator of the Puerto Escondido Red Cross, which took the twins to the hospital, mentioned that “one of the sisters had injuries to her chest, abdomen, and hands. She was unconscious when we got to her. “
On June 9, Melissa’s sister declared that her sister had been taken off life support, and although she cannot speak, she is already breathing independently. “She recognized me and knew who I was,” says Georgia. “ She seemed happy to see me. ”
It is known that the night of the crocodile attack, the sisters had booked a tour of the lagoon, with a guide who is now known to be neither certified nor licensed to give tours. The twins entered the water of the lagoon when they were attacked by the crocodile.
It was a matter of seconds for Melissa to get caught in the reptile’s strong jaw, which dragged her under the water and tried to drown her.
Georgia, noticing what was happening with her sister, repeatedly hit the crocodile on the head, holding Melissa by the hair and pulling her to save her from the attack. Her hand was bitten by the reptile, however, she achieved her mission and saved her sister.