A Colombian woman who went missing two years ago was found alive at sea on Saturday. Stunned fishermen spotted Angelica Gaitan floating off the coast of Colombia, reports The Sun. Dramatic footage of her rescue has gone viral on social media.
The 46-year-old was discovered by fisherman Rolando Visbal and his friend. She was found around two kilometres away from the shore of Puerto Colombia at around 6 AM on Saturday.
Footage shared by Mr Visbal on Facebook shows him and his friend maneuvering their boat toward an unresponsive Ms Gaitan. In fact, according to the New York Post, they mistook her for a piece of driftwood until she raised her hand to signal for help. Mr Visbal and his friend can be seen pulling Ms Gaitan into the boat. She was exhausted and suffering from hypothermia after staying afloat for more than eight hours.
Her first words after being rescued were reportedly “I was born again, God did not want me to die.”
Other videos shared by her rescuers on Facebook show them offering water to her and helping her walk. Locals at the beach tended to Ms Gaitan before she was taken to a hospital.
After Ms Gaitan was identified, her backstory was revealed. She told RCN Radio that she suffered years of domestic abuse at the hands of her ex-husband and decided to run away in 2018.
“For 20 years I had a toxic relationship,” Angelica Gaitan said. “The abuse began during the first pregnancy. He beat me, he violently abused me. In the second pregnancy the abuse continued and I could not get away from him because the girls were small.”
Ms Gaitan said that police complaints did not help, as cops would detain her husband for 24 hours before letting him go. He would then return and the assaults would continue.
In September 2018, she said, her husband broke her face and tried to kill her. Unable to endure the abuse, she ran away from home and wandered the streets for six months before finding a place to stay at the Camino de Fe rescue centre. However, police asked her to leave the shelter when her ex-husband moved cities, which meant that protective measures granted to her came to an end.
“I did not want to continue with my life,” said Ms Gaitan. “I wanted to end everything, I had no help from anywhere not even from my family, because this man kept me away from my social circle, that’s why I didn’t want to continue living.”
She said she decided to “jump into the sea” but does not remember anything after that as she slipped into unconsciousness.
“The man who rescued me in the middle of the sea told me that I was unconscious, floating,” she said.
Local media has tracked down Ms Gaitan’s daughter, Alejandra Castiblanco, who says she did not know of her mother’s whereabouts for the last two years. She also suggested that reports of domestic abuse were false.
Ms Castiblanco and her sister are now raising money to bring their mother to the capital Bogota where she can be “taken care of by family”.
(If you need support or know someone who does, please reach out to your nearest mental health specialist.) Helplines: 1) Vandrevala Foundation for Mental Health – 1860-2662-345 or [email protected] 2) TISS iCall – 022-25521111 (Monday-Saturday: 8 am to 10 pm)
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