The woman was reunited with her family 2 years after she escaped from the city. The story of why she needed to escape is harrowing.
Trigger Warning: Domestic Abuse, poverty, drowning
These two Colombian fishermen must have started their day expecting a usual day, hoping for a good catch. But their boat almost upended, figuratively, when they noticed what came floating to them. What they mistook for a floating log, turned out to be a woman, which they realized only when she raised her hands to gesture for help.
Angélica Gaitán had been missing for almost 2 years before she was found in the sea more than one mile away from the port town of Puerto Colombia, according to Independent.
The video shows Rolando and a friend - simply identified as ‘Gustavo’ by local media in Colombia - approach the floating woman who is almost completely unresponsive.
Rolando is seen yelling at the 46-year-old woman, who is seen laying back in a rubber ring. He first said "Hola" really loudly, and when she didn't respond, he said, "Hello" too. But she was unresponsive.
She seemed so weak that her eyes were closed and seemed to be falling in and out of consciousness. The fisherman had to pull her to help her into the boat. They struggled for a bit before finally pulling her completely inside. The video ends as she started crying.
The Sun reported that after being rescued, her first words were, "I was born again, God did not want me to die." Once she was brought ashore, she was tended to by the locals before being taken to the hospital.
She was later identified as Angelica and found to be in a very weakened state with signs of hypothermia. She was also reunited with her family. According to The Mirror, they hadn't seen her since 2018, after she left for Ecuador to stay with her brother.
According to a local radio station, RCN Radio, she said, "For 20 years I had a toxic relationship. The abuse began in the first pregnancy, he beat me, he violently abused me."
Her tale is painful and cruel. She said, "In my second pregnancy the abuse continued and I could not get away from him because the girls were small." She went on, "Many times I reported it but the police took him away for 24 hours and when he was in the house again, the assaults returned." Finally, she decided she couldn't take it anymore. "The day I decided to leave the house was after a brutal assault. In September 2018 he broke my face and tried to kill me. Thank God I managed to escape."
She claimed that she lived with great difficulty in the city of Barranquilla for six months, after which she finally got lodging in a homeless shelter. But she fell into a deep depression. "I did not want to continue with my life. A lady lent me for the tickets and I took a bus directly to the sea," she said.
According to The Mirror, she said, "I wanted to end everything, I had no help from anywhere not even from my family, because this man kept me away from my circle social, that's why I didn't want to continue living." Angelica said she recalls "being on the seashore, I found myself in solitude and decided to jump into the sea". "I let it take me and hope that this nightmare would soon end," she added.
Mystery as woman missing for 8HOURD-NOT-two years found alive in sea by startled fisherman— KoraJanetBs (@JanetKora) September 30, 2020
According to reports, the woman was floating in the water for about eight hours and was taken to a hospital where she arrived in a state of shock. https://t.co/ITgEEQF7Xk
But she seems to full of gratitude and better spirits now. "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."
According to Spanish daily, La Libertard, the woman claimed that her family left her after she accused her partner of domestic abuse. However, local media found contradictory information. Angelica's daughter Alejandra Castiblanco dismissed her mother's story. She added, "We don’t know who attacked her, or how she ended up in the sea."
She also revealed that her mother had heart problems for years and even had a heart attack. After the heart attack, her mental health deteriorated. Alejandra and her sister are trying to raise money so that they can take their mom to Bogota, where they live in hopes that she will now be “taken care of by family”.