DENVER — A woman traveling through Denver International Airport claims her drink was drugged while she spent time at an airport bar. She believes the incident may be linked to a human trafficking attempt.
"I made it. I survived it. So, I want to use my voice to help," Madison Herman said. "It happened to me. It could happen to you."
Herman said she was traveling to Cleveland through DIA on Jan.6 after an overseas trip. She had a layover in Denver and some time to kill, so she went to grab a drink at an airport bar.
Herman, who was on crutches at the time, was traveling through the area alone.
"I wasn't paying attention to my drink at all at the bar. I was on the phone either with my mom or with my husband, [Mike,]" she said.
Herman now believes someone may have been listening in on her conversation, which made it clear she was traveling to Cleveland. She also said her boarding pass was near her.
"I cashed out, and I went and sat at my gate. And when I sat at the gate, I was sitting there and I was on the phone with Mike, and I ... got extremely nauseous. [It] came out of nowhere," Herman said.
After that, Herman went to the women's bathroom, where she says she had a strange interaction.
"There was a girl in front of me, and I really wasn't paying attention. But she had turned around, and she just looked at me and she said, "I'm so sorry,"" Herman said.
Herman was unaware of what the woman was apologizing for.
While she was feeling nauseous in the bathroom, she said her instinct was to make herself throw up.
"I was done, and I heard them (the woman who apologized) on the phone. It was a guy on the other line who said, "This is the first time we've done this that we've had someone throw up." And so at that point, like, all my red flags went up and I was like, "OK, something is going on here,"" Herman said.
When Herman eventually went to board her plane, a United Airlines flight, she saw the woman from the bathroom walk onto her plane.
"I just got like a pit in my stomach when I saw her," she said.
Herman said the woman seemed to know a few other men who were on the same flight.
"She like looked at the guys and, like, gave a smile and a head nod. And so at that point, I was like, "Oh my God! This is happening,"" she said.
As this was all taking place, Herman was texting her mother and husband, letting them know she felt unsafe. She also alerted the flight crew.
"I was like, "I think ... they're trying to traffic me." I said, "I don't know if they're drugging me,"" Herman said.
She says the flight attendant moved her to a different seat and alerted the captain.
When she landed in Cleveland, she was escorted off the flight and met with Cleveland Hopkins International Airport security, who then took her to her family.
Herman said the people she believes were involved were not followed or questioned when they landed.
"Nothing happened to them. They just got off the flight," she said.
She believes her claims were not taken seriously. She said that all changed when she went to get a drug test.
"We had gone to the ER just to make sure everything was OK, and that is where my urine toxicology came back positive for benzos," Herman said.
Benzodiazepines, a type of drug she's not currently prescribed, are a type of narcotic that treats severe anxiety. It's similar to drugs like Xanax, Valium and Rohypnol.
"So the ER doctor said, "Most likely, there was more that was given to you. I'm just happy we got something to show up because usually a lot of the drugs or anything they're giving doesn't show up,"" Herman said.
Once she had that documentation, law enforcement became more involved. Herman said she received a call from the FBI office in Cleveland on Monday, letting her know they were investigating the case.
Denver7 reached out to the Cleveland FBI office, and a spokesperson said they were unable to "confirm nor deny if we are conducting an investigation."
We also reached out to the Denver Police Department and Denver International Airport. Both declined to provide a statement and directed us to the FBI.
A spokesperson for United Airlines said in a statement, "We are working with law enforcement on this matter. The safety of our customers is our top priority."
Although there are still many questions about what happened, Herman is sharing her experience to help others.
"[I want] to help save future victims and to make law enforcement pay more attention, because who knows how often this is happening," she said. "I was a perfect target. I was exhausted, emotional, on crutches, paying attention to nothing around me."