British twin saves sister from crocodile, receives award from King Charles III

King Charles III and Queen Camilla wave to the public below from the balcony of Buckingham Palace after King Charles's coronation at Westminster Abbey in London in May 2023. File photo by Hugo Philpott/UPI
King Charles III and Queen Camilla wave to the public below from the balcony of Buckingham Palace after King Charles's coronation at Westminster Abbey in London in May 2023. File photo by Hugo Philpott/UPI
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May 14 (UPI) -- A 31-year-old British woman who saved her twin sister from the jaws of a crocodile while on a Mexican vacation has been cited by King Charles III for "exemplary bravery," the British government said.

Georgia Laurie, from Sandhurst, Berkshire, a few dozen miles southwest of London, received the King's Gallantry Medal, according to a news release.

While on vacation in June 2021 in Puerto Escondido near Mexico's southern tip along the Pacific Ocean, the Laurie sisters had been told wrongly they could swim in a river off Manialtepec Lagoon in the Mexican state of Oaxaca.

After seeing the crocodile an alerting her group, Melissa Laurie was "snatched" by the animal. Her sister tried to reach her and hit the reptile multiple times. They went through three separate attacks before they were able to escape.

Georgia Laurie called the king's award the "silver lining to have come out of the terrible ordeal," saying how "it kind of softens the whole traumatic experience."

King Charles III shakes members of the public's hands as he did an impromptu walkabout on The Mall the day before his May 2023 coronation in London. File photo by Hugo Philpott/UPI
King Charles III shakes members of the public's hands as he did an impromptu walkabout on The Mall the day before his May 2023 coronation in London. File photo by Hugo Philpott/UPI

Melissa Laurie was left with a open wrist fracture, severe puncture wounds to her stomach, bowel and intestines, plus several bites on her leg and other body parts.

"What's made this story so incredible," she said about her sister Georgia'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 King, 75, at the end of April had made a return to public duties as he continues his cancer treatment.

Georgia Laurie is now one of more than 1,100 people to receive the award since it was established.

Instituted in 1974 by Charles' late mother, Queen Elizabeth II, as The Queen's Gallantry Medal -- now called The King's Gallantry Medal -- is awarded to civilians "for acts of exemplary bravery at a level below that of the George Medal," one of a small handful of other gallantry awards given.

Nominations for civilian gallantry awards are validated by British government department and with assistance from other organizations as needed, according to the government.

The King's Gallantry Medal also is awarded to military personnel after acts for which military honors "would not normally be granted, such as acts of exemplary bravery not in the presence of the enemy."

Now the twins are prepping for their next adventure: a 8-mile swim in August down the Thames River -- their country's largest -- to raise $5,000 for post-traumatic stress disorder in Britain and medical training services for Mexican communities.

"The further away it gets, the less it feels real," Georgia Laurie said about the crocodile attack. "Because when you think about it, it does sound like a horror movie, but it is a part of our life. It's part of the tapestry of our life."