12-Year-old boy describes ‘Terrifying’ Crocodile Attack during a family vacation in Cancun, Mexico

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A 12-year-old boy and his mother are warning others about the dangers of crocodiles after he was attacked by a reptile during a family vacation in Mexico.

Charlie Buhl tells PEOPLE his life was forever changed when he played hide-and-seek with some friends on the pool deck of Club Med Cancún on June 18. While hiding on the staircase that led to the lagoon, Charlie was suddenly ambushed by a massive, 10- to 13-foot crocodile, which jumped out of the water and grabbed onto his leg, the boy recalls.

“It felt like I got stabbed,” he says. “I knew it was real, but I didn’t want it to be real.”

His mom Jennifer and 7-year-old brother Johnny had to extend their vacation by four weeks as Charlie underwent several medical procedures in a Cancún hospital.

In July, he was finally cleared to go home to Philadelphia, where he’s been focused on his recovery — and sharing his story so others don’t experience a similar fate.

“I’m not scared to talk about it [or] go to that same hotel again,” he says. “But I would not sit on the same staircase because if I knew that there were crocodiles in there [and] I could have gotten bit, I wouldn’t have sat.”

In a statement to PEOPLE, a spokesperson for Club Med says they were “deeply saddened by the incident” and “continue to provide assistance to the family.” Club Med has since taken measures — including the installation of warning signs, lights and “taller fencing” — to prevent additional attacks, the spokesperson says.

Jennifer says the resort’s assistance has included 100% coverage of the family’s medical bills.

Reflecting on that scary night, Charlie says it was a friend who first told him about the “great hiding spot on the stairs right next to the lagoon,” where the friend had hidden during the prior round.

According to Jennifer, 50, the stairs lead down to the lagoon, which is frequently used for daytime excursions at the resort, and have a metal gate, which had “no lock” and “no signs or warnings.”

As Charlie sat with a friend around 8:55 p.m., he was suddenly pulled into the water, the family claims.

“Charlie kept grabbing the stairs to try to pull himself up… but couldn’t,” Jennifer says, noting that the boys’ screams eventually alerted a nearby mom to rush to the scene.

“She heard the screams and recognized them as off, not being like children playing,” Jennifer explains. “[Her family] all came running… when they arrived, Charlie was under the water. They couldn’t see him.”

Charlie Buhl croc attack

Today, the 12-year-old boy is slowly working on regaining his mobility and getting back to the game he loves: soccer.

“I can walk and run with a limp… I can still kick the soccer ball, but I still can’t [play in] a game yet,” he explains.

Charlie and his mom are also on a mission to spread word about crocodiles near resorts in Cancún.

“It’s a massive tourist attraction and there need to be warnings at the airports or hotels,” Jennifer says. “The lagoon also needs to be separated better from the people with so many crocodiles in there.”

Source: Excelsior

The Cancun Post