An American tourist broke her back after falling from a cliff while trying to escape a sex attacker in Thailand.
New Yorker Hannah Gavios was reportedly attacked by a local man, Apai Raingworchai, 28, as he pretended to guide her back to her hotel near the tourist destination of Railay Beach, Krabi, southern Thailand.
The 23-year-old - who has waived her anonymity - is now being treated in Phuket, where doctors said she is recovering well despite the severity of her injuries.
Ms Gavios, an English teacher based in Vietnam, said she had only been in Thailand one day when she became lost on Railay Beach.
“It was dark around 11pm and the only way to get back to my accommodation was by crossing the cliffs,” Ms Gavios told the Mail Online.
“I went inside a tourist shop and asked for help back to my hotel. They said it was dangerous to do at night so they told me to follow one of their workers.
“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.”
Instead of leading Ms Gavios back to her hotel, Mr Raingworchai – who has admitted the attack to the police – led her up a rocky trail into the jungle.
“While we were walking he grabbed me and was holding me down and trying to take off my clothes,” Ms Gavios told the Mail.
She said she fought back at her attacker, hitting him and biting his ear so hard it was “half torn off”. Ms Gavios said she then fled through the jungle, but fell over the side of a cliff in the darkness.
"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.
“I felt like a total vegetable. I felt completely vulnerable. I couldn't move anything.”
She had fractured her spine and become temporarily paralysed in the lower half of her body, leaving her helpless as Raingworchai caught up with her.
“He got on top of me. He took off his pants and masturbated on me,” Ms Gavios said.
“He didn't rape me but he did everything else. I really thought I was going to die.
|The stranger allegedly led her up a mountain, before pinning her on the ground and trying to rip off her clothes|
“I honestly didn't know what to do. I just had to remain calm. Whenever I screamed he was choking me so I had to try to keep cool and stay friendly with him.”
Raingworchai then left the scene and Ms Gavios said she was later rescued by locals after spending the night alone in the jungle, unable to move.
Ms Gavios said she was relieved to have not broken her legs in the fall and that she hoped to return to teaching in Vietnam.
Ao Nang Deputy Police Chief Lt Col Winai Poonsawas told The Phuket News: “The suspect is facing assault causing serious injury and charges of sexual assault. He is now being held at a cell at the Krabi Provincial Court.
“There is no question what he did was wrong and unacceptable, and his fate is up to the court to decide. I am sure his punishment will be severe."
Lt Col Poonsawas said of Raingworchai: “He is a homeless man living at Ao Railay.
“Locals give him food and drink to get by, and sometimes people pay him to help move or carry things at the beach.
“He is mentally stable, and we also gave him a drug and alcohol test after the incident, and the test results came back negative.”