A teacher from New York is lucky to be alive after she fell 150 feet down a cliff while fleeing a sexual predator in Thailand.
Hannah Gavios, 23, who had been teaching english in Vietnam, is recovering in a hospital in the town of Krabi in southern Thailand with a broken spine after she was discovered lying between rocks on Sept. 2, one day after her terrifying fall.
“Ms. Gavios is experiencing numbness on both of her legs and doctors have yet to confirm whether either of her legs are broken,” Krabi Tourist Rescue Centre Director Nitiphat Mongkolpradit said, The Phuket News reported.
Gavios recounted the harrowing incident in an interview with the U.K.’s DailyMail.
According to Gavios, she became lost on pitch-black Railay Beach in the resort town of Krabi and needed assistance to return to her hotel. She sought help from a tourist shop, where a local worker was summoned to offer her guidance. Gavios said she felt uneasy about the worker, later identified as Apai Raingworchai.
“I didn’t get the best feeling about him but I was tired and wanted to get home. I’d been travelling for 16 hours so I guess I wasn’t feeling myself,” Gavios said.
Gavios, unsure of her location, kept asking Raingworchai if they were heading the right way. Rather than taking her to her hotel, he instead led her into a jungle, where he made sexual advances towards her.
“While we were walking he grabbed me and was holding me down and trying to take off my clothes,” said Gavios. “I started punching him in the face and beating him up and biting off his ear.”
Raingworchai agreed to stop the sexual advances, but, afraid he’d continue to molest her, Gavios panicked and fled from her attacker.
“It was pitch black and before I knew it I was in mid-air falling off a cliff. I was honestly thinking I wouldn’t survive,” she said. “I hit my head a few times and landed with a big bump. I was screaming in pain. It was the most painful thing ever.
She added, “I felt like a total vegetable. I felt completely vulnerable. I couldn’t move anything.”
As Gavios lay sprawled atop rocks with a broken spine, Raingworchai continued to sexually assault her.
“I really thought I was going to die,” she said.
Officials received a report that Gavios had fallen but rescue workers were unable to locate Gavios and suspended the search efforts to find her on Thursday evening. She wasn’t rescued until daybreak the following day.
“I’m taking one day at a time. But I’m really glad my legs aren’t broken. I want to stay in Asia and return to teaching in Vietnam,” she said.
Apai Raingworchai admitted to the attack and faces assault causing injury and sexual harassment charges.