Student who lost leg to infection after alleged Costa Rica attack credits God with helping her heal

A Nevada college student who lost her leg to an infection after she was allegedly shoved in front of a train during an attempted robbery in Costa Rica said a move to New York and reconnecting with God has helped her recover from the traumatic incident. Gabrielle Newell, then an 18-year-old University of Nevada student participating in a study abroad program in Heredia, said her attacker wanted her iPod, and that she can remember being pushed as the train was coming, SWNS reported.

“I remember being pushed from behind in front of the train,” she told the news agency. “It hit me head on, on my left side. He wanted my iPod. I didn’t know my leg was gone as I lay there. It was amputated at the scene below my knee.”

She moved to New York just five months after the attack and said she was scared around public transportation and strangers. 

She moved to New York just five months after the attack and said she was scared around public transportation and strangers.  (SWNS)

Newell said a man heard her screams for help and attempted to stop the bleeding with a belt before bringing her to a nearby hospital, where they told her it was a “life or death situation.” She said after the surgery doctors made the decision to transfer her due to the aggressiveness of her infection, and that she was in danger of losing her knee.

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Newell told SWNS that she was eventually transferred home to Las Vegas, but that doctors discovered her leg had turned black due to the aggressive infection, typically only found in the rain forest.

“I couldn’t go outside the unit and I went into a depression,” she said. “I was so angry at the person who did this to me but also at myself.”

Newell’s alleged attacker was never caught, and Newell was having trouble finding closure.

She now runs a YouTube channel documenting her life and said she hopes it helps others.

She now runs a YouTube channel documenting her life and said she hopes it helps others. (SWNS)

Just five months later, Newell decided to transfer to St. John’s University in New York, where she was forced to face her fear of public transportation, as well as adapt to her new norm without two legs. She said walking with a prosthetic was painful, and that accepting that she was now an amputee was difficult.

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“People made me nervous,” she said. “The accident made me lose my innocence and I didn’t trust anyone. I was always looking over my shoulder.”

But in 2016, Newell reconnected with her faith and began reading the Bible, which she said really resonated with her. She has since moved back to Nevada, and she decided she could help others by documenting her life on YouTube. She said credits her relationship with God with helping her to heal.

“I have grown a lot and I’m more trusting of people now,” she told SWNS. “My relationship with God has allowed me to heal.”