Thailand — American tourist Hannah Gavios, 23, on a stretcher en route to the hospital after the backpacker fell off a cliff while fleeing a man who sexually assaulted her. (PHUKET NEWS )
The Fashion Institute of Technology graduate eventually got away and ran through the darkness, terrified her assailant might hunt her down.
“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,” 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 said. “I felt like a total vegetable. I felt completely vulnerable. I couldn’t move anything.”
Raingworchai managed to find her again and continued his sickening assault as she lay injured and helpless, she said.
“He didn’t rape me, but he did everything else. I really thought I was going to die,” she said.
After several hours, Raingworchai abandoned her alone in the snake-infested jungle but eventually returned with others who summoned help.
Gavios’ parents told the Daily News on Wednesday they were devoted to her recovery after rushing from Bayside to be by her side.
“We need just to take care of our daughter now,” mom Gwen Gavios, 60, said in a text to The News.
“This is a very bad time,” father Aaron Gavios, 58, said simply when reached by phone Wednesday.
Dr. Manp Trinarong at Bangkok Hospital Phuket told local media that Hannah Gavios “is recovering but needs to stay in the hospital at least one more week. She can move her legs, but she cannot move them very much.”
Gavios was working in Vietnam as an English teacher and jaunted to Thailand during a few days off, a co-worker previously told The News.
“She is an amazing teacher and human being,” said the co-worker, Darrion Willis, 27. “I’m just shocked. I just saw her, saying ‘have a safe trip’ before all this happened.”
Gavios did not respond to The News’ emails or phone calls, but Willis said he had spoken to her over Skype and she told him she’s unable to walk because of her injuries.
Raingworchai, meanwhile, was charged by Ao Nang police with assault causing injury and sexual assault. He was being held at the Krabi Provincial court, Phuket News reported.
“There is no question what he did was wrong and unacceptable,” Ao Nang Deputy Police Chief Lt. Col. Winai Poonsawas told the newspaper. “I am sure his punishment will be severe.”
Gavios’ friends reached out with sympathy to the young woman on her Facebook page.
“Get well. We all love you and our prayers are with you,” wrote Victor Mevorah.
“I’m so sorry to hear about what happened. I hope you have a fast recovery and get well soon!” Aria Modanlo wrote.
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.
“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.”
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