Fishermen rescue woman found floating in ocean near Colombia
TORONTO -- Fishermen have rescued a woman who was discovered floating in the Caribbean Sea off the coast of Colombia.
Two fishermen found the woman floating on her back with her eyes closed in the early morning of Sept. 26, while on their boat a few kilometres offshore from the northern Colombian port town of Puerto Colombia.
One of the fishermen, Rolando Visbal, recorded video of the stunning discovery on his cellphone, which was verified by Storyful news agency
Daughters of the woman, who was identified as 46-year-old Angélica Gaitán, issued a joint video statement to local media two days later claiming that they hadn’t heard from their mother since 2018, when she was reportedly in Ecuador. The two women also said that they had recently found out she was being treated by a psychiatrist in Baranquilla, Colombia.
After spotting Gaitán, the fishermen managed to pull her into their boat. At one point in the nearly eight-minute video, Visbal can be heard asking the woman her name in Spanish as he tries to give her water to drink.
Gaitán, who appeared to be weak, doesn’t answer, but is later seen breaking into tears and sobbing. It’s believed the woman had been floating in the water for about eight hours before being spotted by the fishermen.
Visbal and his friend rushed Gaitán to shore where a group of locals helped her walk across the beach and eventually sat her down in a chair. At times in the video, she appears to drift in and out of consciousness.
At one point, a man is seen checking her pulse, while another puts her feet up on a chair. Gaitán is later carried into a car where she is laid out on the back seat. A driver took her to a hospital with the help of a police escort.
In an interview she gave Colombian radio station RCN Radio, Gaitán said her Sept. 2018 disappearance was part of an attempt to leave her abusive ex-husband after a particularly violent assault.
She recounted her suffering as a victim of domestic violence for many years at the hands of her former partner, but said she decided to flee in 2018 after he allegedly broke her face and tried to kill her.
Gaitán decided she was going to die by suicide by throwing herself into the sea after she was recently forced out of a foster home, according to local media reports.
“The man who rescued me in the middle of the sea told me that I was unconscious, floating,” Gaitán told RCN Radio. “Thank God I was alive, and he threw me a life preserver. They brought me to a health centre where I am receiving the necessary care,” she added.
Gaitán's account of her disappearance was contradicted by one of her daughters, who told local media that her father never abused her mother, and that her mental health had suffered following a heart attack.