The friend of an Australian woman who was injured in Bali has admitted the story which was relayed on a GoFundMe page to raise money for her was “not entirely true”.
Earlier this week, Aussie woman Emma Bell – who lived in Bali – was rushed from the Indonesian island to Perth Hospital for emergency surgery.
It was reported Ms Bell struck her head on the road and was dragged for several metres after a motorcyclist tried to snatch her bag while she was walking alone in Canggu.
Ms Bell had just moved to Bali after gaining sponsorship to become a hairdresser and the GoFundMe was set up to help cover medical expenses.
Now, days after Bali Police dismissed Ms Bell’s story, the friend who set up the GoFundMe has broken her silence and admitted the original story was untrue.
“I am very sorry to tell you all, that my original posted story WAS NOT ENTIRELY TRUE,” Emi Thompson wrote.
“There was no mugging – Emma fell off a scooter with no helmet on.
“It seems that Emma came off a scooter and was laying unconscious in the gutter, with no helmet and ended up in an ill-equipped hospital, with brain injuries, as well as horrendous facial injuries and broken bones in many places..”
However Ms Thompson did say her friend still suffered brain, face and body injuries which “will require significant operations and rehabilitation and she does not have any Insurance Cover”.
Ms Thompson admitted she “acted too quickly” and did not “confirm or verify” the information, which was being passed on to her when she started the GoFundMe, from people in Bali.
Ms Thompson explained Ms Bell ended up in an “ill-equipped hospital” after being taken in by a Balinese family.
Ms Bell was then transferred to BIMC Bali Hospital, which was when the bills started piling up, and Ms Thompson said she paid for a few medical bills and was then encouraged to start a GoFundMe.
“I was anxious, emotional, confused – and perhaps somewhat too quick to act, as I was encouraged by the people in Bali who were on the spot with Emma and involved with her family, all of us being totally overwhelmed by Emma’s ongoing complicated medical requirements,” Ms Thompson wrote.
Ms Thompson said she and Ms Bell’s family had no way of verifying the “conflicting stories” and getting Ms Bell out of Bali was a “priority”.
“I am happy to admit – that I am highly embarrassed,” Ms Thompson wrote.
“I certainly feel stupid and guilty that I did not get more confirmation at the time, before I launched the GoFundMe Page.”
Ms Thompson said the family had not taken out any money from the account, despite the family still being in massive debt.
Ms Bell remains in Perth, however she is from Byron Bay and Ms Thompson explained getting her back to NSW could be tricky and expensive.
The GoFundMe is still open for people to donate and Ms Thompson said she will be looking for advice from the GoFundMe team to see whether or not all money donated should be given back.
“I humbly and ‘formally apologise’ – for misleading everyone with my initial story, perhaps allowing people to think that this might have been some sort of scam,” Ms Thompson said.
People are still donating to the GoFundMe, despite the admission.
“Thanks for your honesty Emi,” one person wrote on the GoFundMe, after donating $100.
Another person donated and said despite the true story, Ms Bell still needed medical help.
“We all are a community and everyone deserves to be helped,” they wrote.
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