A summer vacation to Mexico took a terrifying turn for a teen who says she was dragged underwater by a 12-foot-long crocodile outside her Marriott resort.
Kiana Hummel was enjoying her pre-college getaway when the scary incident happened just before midnight at the Marriott Puerto Vallarta Resort & Spa, according to ABC affiliate KGO.
Hummel, an 18-year-old recent graduate of Novato High School in Marin County, told the outlet that she and a friend had decided to go for a late-night swim in the ocean outside their resort.
While they were standing on the beach, Hummel said the massive reptile appeared from the ocean and grabbed her right leg before dragging her into the water, KGO reported.
Despite being pulled under the water, Hummel said she remained calm and continued to hit the reptile as hard as she could until it released her leg. At one point, the teen thought she had almost escaped but the crocodile then grabbed her left ankle and dragged her back under the surface, she told KGO.
“I didn’t think I was getting out that second time,” Hummel recalled to the outlet from her hospital bed at MarinHealth Medical Center. “That was just really bad.”
As Hummel put up a fight, bystanders at the scene heard the girl’s screams and rushed to help, according to KGO.
“I just remember saying, ‘Please don’t leave me,'” Hummel shared with the outlet.
Sarah Laney, a vacationer from St. Louis, and her friends were among those who came to help. She told KGO they were able to successfully pull Hummel from the crocodile’s grip and to safety.
“It was most definitely one of the craziest, scariest things I’ve ever experienced,” Laney told KGO. “Honestly, I will never forget it when the crocodile’s head came above water. I just went into shock.”
Moments after the attack, Hummel called her mother, Ariana Martinez, via FaceTime and frantically described what had just unfolded, according to KGO. Martinez told the outlet she immediately hopped on the next flight from San Francisco to Puerto Vallarta after learning of the terrifying events.
“I’m on the phone with her. She’s yelling, ‘Get me an ambulance, get me an ambulance to the hospital,'” Martinez recalled to KGO. “It took them forever.”
Laney stayed with Hummel after the attack but told the outlet that it took 45 minutes for an ambulance to arrive. Martinez also claimed to KGO that the hospital demanded her daughter pay thousands of dollars before providing treatment.
Surprisingly, Hummel did not lose any limbs from the attack — but suffered “extensive muscle and tissue damage,” according to a GoFundMe page set up on her behalf by a friend to help with medical expenses.
The damage is so deep that it has reached her bones and the teen is currently unable to walk, KGO reported.
“With this amazing second chance at life brings a long road to recovery, healing and emotional trauma,” reads the GoFundMe. “[She] needs a lot of medical attention, but with her wonderful mother and family by her side, she will achieve this, but it also comes with extra unforeseen costs to her and her family.”
As she prepares to undergo a second surgery for her injuries in the hospital, Hummel — along with Martinez and Laney — are calling for better safety measures at the Marriott resort to warn guests about the dangers of crocodiles at night, KGO reported.
According to the group, the only warning in the area was a small sign that they learned of after the attack. They told KGO it was poorly lit at night and posted in Spanish.
“Until that moment, never in my wildest dreams would I have thought a crocodile was on that beach. Ever,” Laney shared with the outlet.
“It could have ended so much differently,” Martinez added to KGO. “That call could have been a totally different call.”
Laney’s friend, Natalie, opened up about the incident in a review she wrote on Tripadvisor.
“These girls weren’t warned because the sign at the main entrance that has the ‘warning’ is 20 feet of to the side. Had my group not been sitting on the patio near the beach that poor girl would’ve DIED,” she wrote, in part. “I understand you don’t want to ‘scare’ guests, but the following day there should’ve been big YELLOW signs to warn of the attack.”
“My group is TRAUMATIZED by this experience,” Natalie continued. “That crocodile is a monster and will be back on your beaches until he gets what he wants, do something about it before you kill one of your guests.”
In a statement to PEOPLE, Marriott spokesperson Kerstin Sachl says the company is aware of the incident.
“The safety and security of our guests and associates are our top priority. At the Marriott Puerto Vallarta we have appropriate signage, as well as night patrolling and red flags to indicate caution in the area and all were and are properly in place,” says the spokesperson.
“We review our plans and procedures often and work closely with the appropriate authorities on an ongoing basis and our staff is trained in how to respond to safety matters appropriately,” she adds. “We encourage all guests to be vigilant for their safety.”