A couple who survived a harrowing New Year's Eve carjacking and shooting in Mexico has returned home to western Wisconsin.
Al and Susan Thill of St. Croix Falls said they were driving to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico last week, as they've done for the last nine years. But when they reached the north central Mexican state of Durango on Thursday, their annual trip took a turn for the worst, said Al Thill.
He said they were chased by one car that eventually disappeared, then another which tried to run them off the road. The driver of the second car pulled out a gun as he drove up alongside their car, he said.
Thill said he slammed on the brakes and the gunman stopped in the middle of the road and fired four or five rounds into the air. Thill said they then headed back toward the border of Durango and Chihuahua, as the gunman fired shots at the couple's car.
The gunman stayed right behind them as Al Thill drove up to border station looking for help. As he got out of the car, the man grabbed him and pointed the gun at his head, then pushed him to the ground, Al Thill said.
"He put the gun to my right arm and shot. I don't know why he did that, but I'd rather have that then shoot me in the stomach or something," Thill said.
Thill said the gunman then put the gun to his wife's head. She handed over the keys and got out of the car as the gunman sped away in their vehicle, Thill said.
A border inspector applied a tourniquet to Thill's arm while his wife flagged down a passing truck who took the couple to meet an ambulance on its way to the scene.
Thill was taken to a hospital in Hidalgo del Parral, Mexico where he had surgery on his broken arm.
The couple said they received help from the U.S. Consulate in Juarez to return home. They had planned to stay in Mexico for two months and had packed a large amount of belongings in their vehicle.
"It's like you've got this vacation planned, your car is loaded up with everything from A to Z and now it's like gone. But, at least you're alive," Thill said.
The couple arrived at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International airport Sunday night. Thill planned to see his own doctor in Wisconsin on Monday.
A message left for a duty officer at the U.S. Consulate in Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua, Mexico was not immediately returned.
(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)