King Charles III arrives for a visit to Army Aviation Centre at Middle Wallop, Hampshire, to officially hand over the role of Colonel-in-Chief of the Army Air Corps to the Prince of Wales on Monday, May 13, 2024.

King Charles III arrives for a visit to Army Aviation Centre at Middle Wallop, Hampshire, to officially hand over the role of Colonel-in-Chief of the Army Air Corps to the Prince of Wales on Monday, May 13, 2024. (Facebook/Kin Cheung)

LONDON — Georgia Laurie immediately jumped into the water when her twin sister was dragged into a river by a crocodile in Mexico. Holding onto her sister Melissa, who had been lying facedown in the water, she fended off two more attacks by the crocodile — including by punching the beast in the head.

Both made it out alive.

Now, King Charles III is awarding Georgia a medal for “gallantry,” a tradition in which the monarch recognizes civilians “for acts of exemplary bravery.”

It’s a “silver lining,” said Georgia, now 31, after the vacation-gone-wrong for the British twins in June 2021. Guides had — falsely — told them that a swim in the Mexican river during a trip to see the bioluminescence would be safe.

“I didn’t see it coming, I didn’t expect it,” Georgia told British media, describing the award as an honor. “I feel really privileged, it’s a silver lining to have come out of the terrible ordeal … it kind of softens the whole traumatic experience.” The twins could not immediately be reached for comment early Tuesday.

The women were visiting a river off the Manialtepec Lagoon in Puerto Escondido, Mexico, with friends when the attack took place.

Melissa saw a crocodile about 50 feet away and managed to alert the rest of the group, according to a statement announcing this year’s Civilian Gallantry List.

But just as Melissa was being pulled onto the riverbank to safety by another member of the group, the crocodile snatched her back into the water.

“I saw her getting taken underneath the water, and my worst fear became a reality, is that I’ve probably lost her, that she’s dead,” Georgia told the BBC in 2021.

“I actually heard her scream, and I saw her being taken underneath by the crocodile. And then I realized she was really in trouble when I was calling out her name and there was no response from her,” she continued.

According to the award announcement, Georgia was able to revive her sister, who was floating face down in the water.

Then the crocodile returned — leaving Georgia fighting to keep her sister’s head above water with one hand, while punching the reptile on the nose with the other.

The crocodile came back for a final attack, and dragged Melissa into a death roll. Georgia once again began punching the reptile to force it to release her sister, and suffered injuries when the crocodile bit her hand.

Georgia was able to pull her sister to safety on a nearby boat despite her own injuries.

Melissa “survived with an open fracture to her wrist, severe puncture wounds to the abdomen and many injuries to her leg and foot,” according to the announcement.

“That she did so was almost entirely due to the exceptional bravery of her sister, who clearly knew that a dangerous crocodile was in the water but still chose to risk her life to save her sister, showing great persistence in fighting off the attack on multiple occasions.”

The boat ride to the shore took 25 minutes, and it took another 20 minutes before they reached a hospital, the twins have said. Melissa was placed in a coma and developed sepsis, but has since made a full physical recovery.

Both women plan to take part in a sponsored swim to raise money for two charities later this summer — one dedicated to raising awareness of post-traumatic stress disorder in the United Kingdom, and another providing aid and medical training in the Chiapas region of Mexico, where the twins spent six weeks before the attack.

Another civilian awarded this year’s King’s Gallantry Medal — the first since Charles’ coronation — is an off-duty police officer who was stabbed while apprehending a double murder suspect. A man who rescued a stranger from a river in China was awarded the King’s Commendation for Bravery.

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