Ottawa woman recalls 'shocking' attack in Mexico

An Ottawa woman who was violently attacked in Mexico said she’s overwhelmed by support she’s receiving from back home.

Lexie York, 29, says support helps as she recovers from surgery

'One bad person versus all these other amazing people,' Lexie York, right, said. 'It makes me happy and makes me confident that I’m going to be OK.' (Mathew York)

An Ottawa woman who was violently attacked in Mexico said she's overwhelmed by the support she's receiving from back home and could be able to fly to Canada in a week.

On her first night at the Grand Bahia Principe resort in Tulum on the Yucatan Peninsula, Lexie York, 29, said she was strangled and punched until she lost consciousness.

The flight attendant had met her alleged assailant in what seemed like a friendly encounter on Nov. 10.

But early the next morning, the unidentified man knocked on her door, saying his wife had heard screaming.

After trying to convince him she was fine and that he should leave, she said the man then leaned forward.

"That's when he started strangling me," York said in a phone interview from Cancun.

"I ended up on the bed. He was pushing me down into the bed, squeezing my throat."  

Cries for help

She remembers a feeling of disconnect, unable to believe what was happening to her was real.

"It was shocking," she said. 

She also remembers trying to angle herself under his body to push herself off the side of the bed, eventually losing consciousness as she tried to fight back.

When she came to, she was beside the bed and had lost vision in both eyes. 

Although she didn't know it at the time, her brother Mathew said the man who attacked her was still in the room, unconscious.  

"We don't know if he passed out or she knocked him out," he said via text from Mexico, where he went to be with his sister last week.

CBC has reached out to police in Tulum, but has not heard back.

Lexie York had met her alleged assailant in what seemed like a friendly encounter earlier that day. (Submitted)

When she awoke, York's immediate instinct was to get up and leave. Feeling the walls, she stood up and made her way outside.

There, she began calling for help, hoping to draw someone's attention.

A woman heard her screams and stayed with York until the paramedics arrived. 

"I told her, 'Please don't leave me alone, I'm really scared,'" she said. 

Doctors hopeful for eyesight

York was taken to a hospital in Playa del Carmen before being transferred to a hospital in Cancun.

Eventually, she was put under for nine hours of plastic surgery after losing nerve endings in her face. 

Although her face has swollen, she said the doctors are hopeful about her eyesight.

Her vision is blurred in one eye, while the other has double vision.

Lexie York was on vacation in Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula earlier this month when she was attacked in her hotel room, according to her family. (Mathew York)

"I'm hoping I can go home in about a week," she said. 

A Global Affairs Canada spokesperson said consular services are being provided to Lexie and her family, and Canadian officials are in contact with authorities in Mexico.

Messages of support

Although York considers herself a smart traveller, she said she'll be more careful in the future.

Still, she's trying to stay positive after a traumatizing incident. 

"Co-workers, friends, people from the neighbourhood where I grew up — I've heard so much from everyone," she said.

"I haven't been able to get back to everyone. But everyone's positivity and standing behind me helps me feel like I'm going to be OK."