Boy Dresses as Crocodile for Halloween with Help from Friends After Surviving Croc Attack at Resort

A crocodile jumped up from the water and bit Charlie Buhl's leg while he was vacationing with his family at a Cancún resort in June

charlie buhl halloween
Charlie Buhl with his friends, Adlai and Nathan. Photo: Jennifer Buhl

A 12-year-old boy, who was attacked by a reptile during a family vacation in Mexico, got creative for Halloween this year by looking back on the terrifying ordeal with a positive attitude.

Charlie Buhl tells PEOPLE that he decided to dress as a giant crocodile for Halloween this year with his two friends, Adlai and Nathan, just four months after being attacked by one on vacation in Cancún.

"I got bitten by a crocodile, and a crocodile was on my mind," says the Philadelphia boy. "So, [I figured], why not?"

As PEOPLE exclusively reported, Charlie was staying at Club Med Cancún on June 18 with his mom Jennifer Buhl and his younger brother Johnny when the scary incident unfolded.

While hiding on a staircase that led to the lagoon during a game of hide and seek, Charlie was suddenly ambushed by a massive, 10- to 13-foot crocodile, which jumped out of the water and grabbed onto his leg.

Charlie Buhl croc attack
Charlie Buhl after the attack. courtesy Jennifer Buhl

The family had to extend their vacation by four weeks as Charlie underwent several medical procedures in a Cancún hospital — all of which were covered by the resort, according to Jennifer — to save his leg.

In a statement to PEOPLE, a spokesperson for Club Med says they were "deeply saddened by the incident" and "continue to provide assistance to the family." Club Med has since taken measures — including the installation of warning signs, lights and "taller fencing" — to prevent additional attacks, the spokesperson says.

Though it was a traumatic experience for the 12-year-old, Charlie says he was actually the one to propose the crocodile costume idea to Adlai and Nathan for Halloween.

"Two years ago, Adlai and I built a giant cardboard spider and the two of us went in that for Halloween," Charlie recalls. "But this year, Adlai said, 'I really want to build [a costume] that the three of us can go in. How about a caterpillar?' And I said, 'What about a crocodile?' "

charlie buhl halloween
Charlie Buhl with his friends, Adlai and Nathan, in the costume. Jennifer Buhl

Adlai and Nathan were quick to take to Charlie's idea, telling him, "it was a great idea... and it was pretty cool because I got attacked by a crocodile and I'm still alive."

The trio then got to building, constructing the massive costume with a variety of materials, including metal bars, PVC pipes and cardboard.

"We all built it. All of us did everything," Charlie says. "It was fun once we finally came up with the idea. It was easier with more than one person because if you didn't know how to do something, the others would help."

"For example, we had to build a prototype to figure out how to connect the mouth to the body," he continues. "We built the body and then we built a prototype for the head, then we build the head, and a prototype for the tail, then we build the tail."

The final product ended up being a massive green crocodile that Charlie, Adlai and Nathan could each place their heads in as they walked in a line. The lifelike reptile also included a mouth with "sharp teeth" that had the ability to open and shut.

"The neighbors all said that we won Halloween," Charlie shares. "But some little kids thought it was a dragon."

Going trick-or-treating with his friends was another positive step forward in Charlie's recovery process.

He previously told PEOPLE he is slowly working on regaining his leg mobility and getting back to playing soccer after the attack, which made him lose half his blood and at one point, had doctors concerned he would likely lose his leg altogether.

"I can walk and run with a limp... I can still kick the soccer ball, but I still can't [play in] a game yet," he explained.

RELATED VIDEO: 12-Year-Old Boy Recounts 'Terrifying' Crocodile Attack During Family Vacation at Mexico Resort

As he continues to recover, Charlie and Jennifer are on a mission to spread the word about crocodiles near resorts in Cancún.

"It's a massive tourist attraction and there need to be warnings at the airports or hotels," Jennifer told PEOPLE. "The lagoon also needs to be separated better from the people with so many crocodiles in there."

Added Charlie: "I just want people to know that they can die in there... I'm not scared to talk about it [or] go to that same hotel again. But I would not sit on the same staircase because if I knew that there were crocodiles in there [and] I could have gotten bit, I wouldn't have sat."

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