Watch CBS News

Woman who fought off crocodile to save her twin sister honored by King Charles III

Florida man bitten by American crocodile
Florida man bitten by American crocodile in Everglades 01:58

An English woman who fought a crocodile off her twin sister will be honored with a medal celebrating her "exemplary bravery," the U.K. government announced.

Georgia Laurie will receive the King's Gallantry Medal from King Charles III, an award that honors civilians who have acted courageously. 

Laurie and her twin sister Melissa Laurie were on an excursion in Mexico in June 2021 when they were told by a guide they could safely swim in a river, according to a news release announcing Laurie's award. While in the water, Melissa Laurie spotted the crocodile and alerted others in the group to swim for safety. Melissa Laurie was "snatched" by the reptile. 

Georgia heard her sister's "screams for help," the news release said, and jumped back into the water to find her sister. Another member of the group pointed out Melissa was lying face-down and unconscious in the water. Georgia  managed to "revive" her sister, but the crocodile returned before the pair were out of the water. 

Civilian Gallantry List
Twins Melissa and Georgia Laurie at their home in Sandhurst in Berkshire. Aaron Chown/PA Images via Getty Images

The crocodile approached again, biting Melissa and beginning to drag her away by the ankle. Georgia fought the crocodile, punching it on the nose, all while making sure her sister's head stayed above water. The crocodile was eventually "deterred," the news release said, and Georgia was able to drag her sister to a "more secluded area" so she could begin treating the injuries she had sustained. 

As Georgia  attended to her sister, the crocodile returned again, performing something called a "death roll." In this, crocodiles grab their prey and spin it, attempting to kill and dismember their victim. Georgia again punched the crocodile. This time, the reptile bit her on the hand, but Georgia continued to fight off the crocodile and defend her sister. 

Finally, the crocodile retreated for good, and the two sisters were able to get to a nearby boat and be transported away from the area. Georgia  Laurie told the BBC that she thought her sister had died, and Melissa said that her sister worked to keep her calm as they fled the area. 

"I could feel myself losing grip of our bond when I was on the boat," Melissa Laurie told the BBC. "I was saying 'Hug me Georgia, hug me I'm dying'... I was biting onto her shoulder to stay connected to her. She sang 'Stand By Me' and 'Don't Worry About A Thing' - she sang them on repeat to keep me calm. She was so brave."

Crocodile attack victim shares story of survival 01:32

Melissa Laurie sustained an open fracture to her wrist, severe puncture wounds to her abdomen, and "many injuries to her leg and foot," according to the news release. She survived the attack "almost entirely due to the exceptional bravery of her sister," the news release said. 

Melissa Laurie also developed sepsis in the hospital where she was being treated, and was placed into a medically induced coma, the BBC reported. She eventually recovered. 

Georgia Laurie told the BBC she felt "really privileged" to be awarded with the King's Gallantry Medal. 

"It's a silver lining to have come out of this terrible ordeal," she told the BBC. "It's an honour, I was so shocked when I received the letter (announcing her award) because I didn't see it coming, I didn't expect it. What's made this story so incredible is Melissa's unwavering bravery throughout it all because she was so strong during it and I don't think I would be here without her, she really gave me the strength to keep fighting."

The two sisters plan to swim England's Thames Marathon in August. They are hoping to raise about $5,000 for two causes, one dedicated to treating PTSD in the United Kingdom and one that provides essential aid and medical training to communities in Mexico. 

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.