Teen attacked by crocodile at Mexico beach resort
18-year-old Kiana Hummel is from the Bay Area, and was recently vacationing with a friend at the Marriott Puerto Vallarta Resort & Spa. She was going to go for a late night swim (just before midnight), when she was attacked by a 12-foot crocodile. Before she could even get into the ocean, the crocodile emerged:
- The crocodile pulled her into the water
- She struck the crocodile until it released her right leg
- She then tried to escape, but the crocodile struck again, biting her left ankle and forcing her underwater again (I can’t even begin to imagine how terrifying this must have been, this is worse than any nightmare)
- Some bystanders heard Hummel scream, and ran to help; amazingly enough they managed to get the crocodile to let go of her, and they were able to bring her to safety (huge kudos to these brave people — what a selfless act to help free someone from a crocodile)
After the attack, Hummel and the bystanders immediately requested an ambulance be called. It’s claimed that the hotel staff initially didn’t want to call an ambulance. They just poured bottles of water on her wounds, and put bandages on her.
She only received medical attention four hours later, and when she arrived at the hospital, she was forced to pre-pay thousands of dollars before being helped.
Fortunately Hummel survived and didn’t lose any limbs. However, she now has to undergo several surgeries, and has extensive muscle and nerve damage, and is unable to walk. She remains hospitalized, though is now back in the United States.
For those wondering how a crocodile could get into the ocean, there’s a river leading into the ocean from near the hotel, and even a crocodile viewing area of sorts not far away. So while it’s rare that crocodiles attack humans in the ocean, it can happen.
Here’s a Good Morning America interview with Hummel:
Does Marriott have any responsibility here?
Hummel and her family think that Marriott should have done more to warn guests about the potential threat of crocodiles. They think that Marriott should be held responsible, and state that Marriott hasn’t even reached out to them, or tried to do anything to help them.
Instead a Marriott spokesperson released the following statement about the incident:
“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. We review our plans and procedures often and work closely with the appropriate authorities on an ongoing basis. Our staff is trained in how to respond to safety matters appropriately. We encourage all guests to be vigilant for their safety.”
Really, Marriott?! I understand the company wants to be careful with how it phrases things for legal reasons, but that’s one of the most callous statements I’ve ever seen from a company for an incident like this.
There was indeed a small sign on the beach warning of crocodiles (and other things), but it wasn’t lit up at night, and was mostly in Spanish. There was no other mention of the potential risk of crocodiles.
I’m obviously no lawyer (and the fact that this took place in Mexico with an American hotel group only complicates it further), but I do have a few thoughts:
- Crocodile attacks on the beach are rare, but this also isn’t the first time something like this has happened; someone was similarly attacked in 2018 on the same beach
- The frustration here stems from no real warning of the potential for crocodiles to be in the ocean; if Hummel really thought there could have been a crocodile in the ocean, she likely wouldn’t have gone in
- Marriott suggests that guests “should be vigilant for their safety,” though what exactly does that look like when the beach is open at night with no lighting, and a crocodile emerges from the ocean and attacks you?
I don’t know where exactly fault lies here. By all indications Hummel wasn’t doing anything reckless and didn’t in any way think she was at risk, or she wouldn’t have gone into the ocean. Presumably the hotel knew that this risk existed (even if these kinds of attacks are rare), and it seems like more should have done than just having a lit-up sign that no one would read in the dark.
Following the incident, the hotel allegedly set up chains around the beach at night, so guests are warned of the risks of swimming. It seems like something along those lines should have been done all along.
An 18-year-old was attacked by a 12-foot crocodile at the Marriott Puerto Vallarta, shortly before going on a nighttime swim. Fortunately there were some brave people who heard screams, and came to the teen’s rescue. The teen is expected to make a full recovery, though it’ll be a long journey to get to that point.
Personally I feel like Marriott has some responsibility here — both for the lack of proper signage, and for how staff responded.
This story also reinforces why I’m terrified of the ocean. It’s the shark’s house, and I more or less refuse to go in it (as much as Ford makes fun of me for it). With crocodiles now being in the mix too, I’m going to be staying even further away from the ocean, at least in areas near rivers and crocodile reserves.
What do you make of this crocodile incident?