(CBS46) -- An Atlanta couple says they are stranded and being held captive inside a Mexican hospital -- unable to leave because they are unable to pay the medical bills being demanded.

Tori Austin and her fiance Stephen Johnson departed Galveston TX, on a Carnival cruise ship more than a week ago. Shortly after getting onboard, Johnson was diagnosed with Pancreatitis and Diabetes, and fell into a diabetic coma, according to Austin, his fiance. She says the cruise line urged him to seek medical treatment in the Mexican port city of Progreso, which is about two hours from Cancun.


Johnson was stabilized and received treatment, but didn’t have medical insurance.

The couple says the hospital demanded a payment of $14,000 in order to leave. When the couple said they didn't have the money, but would be open to a payment plan once back in the states, they claim the hospital locked the doors, a supervisor became physical in restricting them from leaving, and a threat was made to call the police if the couple tried to leave.

Austin says she reached out to the U.S Embassy in Mexico, but attempts at help have failed.

The couple is currently sitting in their hospital room, not able to leave, and not sure how they ever will.

Its not believed the trip on the cruise ship had anything to do with his condition.

In an interview from his hospital room, Johnson told CBS46, he was going through "hell."

"I very much so am a hostage," he continued. "Don’t get sick and have to come to this hospital. They wont let you leave."

His fiance added, "Its been a nightmare. We just want to come home."

A statement from Carnival Cruise Line: 

“We can confirm that one of  our guests on Carnival Dream had a medical emergency and was required to seek medical treatment in Progreso.  We are not in a position to comment on the personal matters related to his health or the financial arrangements regarding his treatment, but our CareTeam is providing support.”

Copyright 2019 WGCL-TV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

Recommended for you

(1) comment


Unbelievable. While Mexicans and everyone else south of the border flocks into our country for free medical benefits on top of all the other government aid this is how Americans are treated in their country. Where is the American government on this issue? Where is the Mexican government, our so-called friends? Yet, left wingers complain how badly we treat illegals stampeding into the US.I think it's time we put our foot down to other countries that keep taking advantage of our generosity and then turn around and pay us back like this. So much for civil rights in Mexico. I'll never go there again for vacation.

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.