American backpacker breaks back fleeing Thai sex attack and falling down 45m cliff

Hannah Gavios says she fractured her back in Thailand when a man tried to attack her. Photo / Facebook
Hannah Gavios says she fractured her back in Thailand when a man tried to attack her. Photo / Facebook

A lone female American backpacker has described the horrific moment she broke her back in a 45m fall down a cliff while fleeing a sex attacker in Thailand.

Hannah Gavios, 23, got lost on pitch-black Railay Beach in the resort of Krabi and went into a tourist shop asking for help back to her hotel.

A worker offered to show her the way but instead led her into the jungle where they started climbing a mountain.

Gavios, who was still tired after arriving in Thailand the day before, innocently followed him before realising she was in danger.

The man pinned her down and tried to rip off her clothes - but Gavios bravely fought back and bit off part of his ear.

She then fled but blindly ran off the edge of a cliff in the darkness.

Gavios fractured her spine and smashed her head on the way down before she landed crippled at the bottom of the cliff.

To her terror her attacker, a local named as Apai Ruengvorn, 28, scrambled after her and sexually molested her as she lay helpless.

After a couple of hours Ruengvorn left but then returned later with other people who raised the alarm and Gavios was rescued and taken to hospital.

She is now being treated at Bangkok Hospital in Phuket and her parents have flown from their New York home to be at her bedside.

Ruengvorn has admitted the attack last week and is now facing several years behind bars.

Gavios, who was taking a break from teaching in Vietnam, said: "I really thought I was going to die.

"It was dark around 11pm and the only way to get back to my accommodation was by crossing the cliffs.

"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.

Hannah Gavios got lost on pitch-black Railay Beach and went into a local tourist shop seeking help. Photo / Getty IMages
Hannah Gavios got lost on pitch-black Railay Beach and went into a local tourist shop seeking help. Photo / Getty IMages

"I followed him up this trail and I was asking him 'is this the right way?'. We were going up this steep mountain and using a flashlight and I started panicking.

"While he were walking he grabbed me and was holding me down and trying to take off my clothes.

"I started punching him in the face and beating him up and biting off his ear. I was biting his ear so hard it almost came off. His ear was half torn off.

"He was in pain and asked me to stop, so we shook hands and he stopped but I was still nervous and he was still trying to harass me so there was no choice but to run.

"I started walking back to where I came from. Once there was distance between us I started running.

"It was pitch black and before I knew it I was in midair falling off a cliff. I was honestly thinking I wouldn't survive.

"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 added: "He heard me screaming and moaning and he came down and climbed down the mountain and starting crying and praying.

"He was feeling very guilty. I was begging him to call for help. He got on the phone and started calling and I thought somebody was coming but nobody came.

"I was stuck with this crazy person. I was in the woods in the bushes with wild snakes crawling on me while he was still continuing to harass me.

"He didn't rape me but he did everything else. I really thought I was going to die.

"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.

"As soon as it got lighter I started calling for help. He kept saying 'no police no police'.

"Eventually he left in the early hours of the morning and then I started screaming and then heard a voice. It was him with his co-workers and an ambulance came."

Gavios added: "My parents flew here from New York and now I'm much better.

"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.

"The police have told me that the man will stay in prison for between five and 10 years."

Pictures in local media show Ruengvorn staging a crime re-enactment pointing to the spot where Gavios fell.

He has been charged with committing obscene behavior towards another person and causing serious injury.

Lt Songpol Bunchai confirmed Gavios' story and added: "The suspect admitted that he became aroused and tried to molest the woman.

"She was frightened and ran away to escape him. She fell down the cliffs."

- Daily Telegraph UK

Get the news delivered straight to your inbox

Receive the day’s news, sport and entertainment in our daily email newsletter

SIGN UP NOW

© Copyright 2017, NZME. Publishing Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production bpcf02 at 25 May 2017 20:41:38 Processing Time: 299ms