An Ontario man says he was viciously attacked last spring near the same five-star resort in Mexico where a Calgary woman was badly beaten over the weekend.
Sheila Nabb, 37, was found with extensive facial injuries in the elevator of the Hotel Riu Emerald Bay in Mazatlan, where she was staying with her husband. Her family said Tuesday she has been removed from a medically induced coma but faces a long recovery from her injuries.
News of Nabb's injuries sent chills through Scott Giddy and his wife Sarah, a couple from Fergus, Ont., who say they will never return to Mexico after Scott was struck over the head outside a restaurant near the same resort in March of last year.
"I just felt sick," Sarah Giddy told CBC's Jeff Semple after reading about Nabb's injuries. "Knowing that something has happened again at that hotel and now that she's at the same hospital where Scott was treated. My heart goes out to her and her family. It's just absolutely horrible."
The Giddys went to Mexico with Sarah’s sister and a friend for March break last year. They had stayed at another Riu resort in Los Cabos on other trips and had been to Mexico many times before.
"We thought, 'Hey, this is a five-star resort, it looks nice,'" said Sarah.
Four days into their trip, the couple visited a restaurant down the beach from their resort. Inside they recognized other guests from their resort.
Toward the end of dinner, Scott went to use the bathroom then stepped outside the restaurant to visit some vendors.
Sarah didn't know her husband planned to step outside.
Scott told CBC News he recalls stepping outside the restaurant, but his next memory is waking up in a hospital eight days later.
"I can remember going to the washroom, and that's where any recollection of what happens fades away," he said. "I have no recollection of how I got injured. I have no recollection of what occurred outside of that restaurant … I don't remember any confrontation with anyone. Nothing."
'Blood was pouring out of his ear'
Sarah recalls the moment someone ran to her table to tell her that her husband had been hurt.
"A woman came running to the table and said, 'Emergency, emergency, your husband.' We ran outside and that's where we found Scott on the ground, there was a huge pool of blood. He was standing against the building and he had blood pouring out his left ear. Pouring like a tap."
Sarah was frantic and Scott was unable to tell her how he had sustained his head wound.
"I just started screaming," said Sarah. "Call 911, call the police, call an ambulance. There were a few taxi drivers out there and one kind of laughed and said, "Police don't come to things like this.'"
Scott had suffered a serious brain injury which doctors later said was caused by a blow to the head. Both his eardrums had also burst.
Eventually a cab driver did take the couple to what Sarah thought was a hospital but was in fact a private clinic. Upon arrival, Sarah was asked for her credit card, which she handed over without hesitation in her state of panic.
A doctor at the clinic examined Scott, determined he had a brain injury and said he need surgery and could only be treated in hospital.
Scott was eventually taken to Sharp Hospital in Mazatlan by ambulance, where the couple say he received excellent care. Surgeons there relieved pressure caused by bleeding in his brain then put him in a medically induced coma. In total, Scott spent 10 days in hospital.
Pursued by bill collectors
During that time, Sarah was pursued by bill collectors who told the couple to pay them in cash deposits to a bank account in Texas.
"They followed us to our hotel," said Sarah. "We had to switch hotels. They said if we don't pay cash, we're cutting off your husband's care."
The couple did have insurance, which covered the cost of Scott's care but did not deter the bill collectors.
In the end, the couple was charged $4,700 for care at the first clinic and a hospital bill of $45,000. The couple believe the charges from the first clinic amount to fraud. Sarah said she never signed a credit card slip.
The couple, who have two children, now feel they were the targets of a scam in which cab drivers are paid to deliver tourists to a private clinic. They also believe a cab driver took part in the attack and say the driver who transported them was paid cash for delivering them to the clinic.
"He must have been involved with that to some degree," said Scott. "If the clinic is willing to let cab drivers know that if you bring us patients that are hurt to our clinic, we're going to give you cash for that."
The couple now say they will never return to Mexico. Scott has made a recovery but did lose his sense of smell.
"We have nothing against the country," said Scott. "We met some wonderful people down there, some wonderful locals but it's just way too dangerous. We would never go there again."
His wife agrees.
"A disturbing thing is hearing people say if you stay on the resort you're fine, but that's not true," said Sarah. "Even if you stay on the resort and you need medical assistance you could wind up in the same situation that we were in where if you don't have cash, you don't get care."