In one of the most bizarre stories to hit the media this year, 46-year-old Angelic Gaitan from Colombia was discovered floating at sea, alive but unresponsive, by fishermen who proceeded to save her life . Gaitan, who had been missing from home for the past two years, was first spotted by Rolando Visbal as she bobbed on the Caribbean Sea about 1.2 miles off the coast of Puerto Colombia.
The headline is being widely misunderstood by people online to mean that Gaitan was floating on the water for two years and was found alive, which is highly impossible. Gaitan was missing from her home in Bogotá for two years and her family had no idea where she’d gone. Due to the psychological trauma she’d battled for a long time, Gaitan reportedly decided to jump into the sea to end her life. She was adrift on the chilly waters for about 8 hours before being found. It’s unclear how she survived for so long and didn’t drown, but the woman is now on the road to recovery and has been reunited with her shocked but grateful family.
“Thank God I was alive,” said Angelica Gaitan in a later interview. As reported by The Sun, the first words she uttered upon gathering her bearings were, “I was born again. God did not want me to die.”
Her story is truly astonishing as she’s said to have been exposed in the Caribbean Sea for a long time, a dangerous sea notoriously known for harboring deadly sharks.
“I knew there are many sharks in that area and, I don’t know if in a hallucination I felt that a fin passed very close to me, but it didn’t stop,” Gaitan said.
Heroic fishermen to her rescue
When Visbal and his friend Gustavo set out to sea that morning to fish for their daily bread, they could never have imagined their day turning out like a survival movie. The duo had initially mistaken Gaitan to be a piece of wood drifting about on the sea, but a closer look revealed that it was actually a woman. She raised her hand to signal that she needed help and the fishermen threw her a lifebuoy attached to a rope, as The Sun reported.
The men could be heard in the video speaking to her in English and Spanish, trying to get a response but she was unable to speak, probably due to hypothermia and the exhaustion of being out at sea for so long.
Finally, the brave duo managed to pull her toward their boat and began to lift her in. Gaitan raised her torso and enabled them to bring her to safety. The men tried to speak to her and get her to take some water, but she suddenly burst into tears, overcome with emotions at the realization of what she’d just been through.
The fishermen drove their boat to the shore where kind locals took care of the woman before she was taken to the hospital.
Broken by domestic violence
In an interview with RCN Radio, Gaitan narrated the heartbreaking reason why she was put in such a terrible situation. For 20 years, the poor woman was violently abused and beaten by her partner. Even while pregnant, he would hit her and on the many occasions she ran to the police, her tormentor would only be held for a few hours and later released.
“The abuse began in the first pregnancy. He beat me, he violently abused me,” Gaitan revealed during the heart-wrenching interview. “In my second pregnancy, the abuse continued and I could not get away from him because the girls were small.”
Gaitan suffered pain so unimaginable that it affected her psychologically. In September 2018, the last straw happened when her tormentor beat her so severely and tried to kill her. She ran away from home and found put up in Barranquilla, a district in Atlantico, Colombia. She later tried to secure a place in a shelter for the homeless but was denied refuge. Life became heavily unbearable for Gaitan and she slipped into major depression. Things got a lot worse as suicidal thoughts took over her fragile mind.
“I did not want to continue with my life,” Gaitan explained. Having made up her mind to end her life, Gaitan got on a bus to the beach apparently jumped into the sea. After that, she remembers little until her fortunate rescue by the fishermen.
A sad reality
The police are still investigating the circumstances surrounding Gaitan’s disappearance from home as she believes her abuser tried to kill her. Her daughters, Alejandra and Paula Castiblanco are trying to raise funds to bring their mother home to Bogota.
Speaking to El Heraldo, a Colombian news outlet, Paula explained that her mother used to suffer panic attacks and severe paranoia before she ran away.
“Every time she saw a high-end car she would scream and say that they were coming for her, that we shouldn’t let her get on those cars. She covered her head and said that a man would come for her,” Ms. Castiblanco explained to El Herald.
Paula is convinced that something else may have happened to her mother during the time she was away that prompted her to suicide. Thankfully, she’s been reunited with her family and will hopefully get a chance to rebuild her life safely.Anyone from anywhere in the world seeking support and information about suicide prevention can contact Beyond Blue at 1300 22 4636, Lifeline on 13 11 14, or Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467.