Angelica Gaitan found: Colombian woman missing for two years found off Puerto Colombia coast by Roland Visbal fisherman. Mystery whereabouts of abused woman.
But how did she end up in the ocean? And for how long had she been floating before being discovered? And how did she end up out to ocean in the first place?
‘Thank God I was alive,’ said Angelica Gaitan, 46, who was found Saturday by Roland Visbal while floating 1.2 miles off of Puerto Colombia.
In footage shot by her rescuer, Visbal and a friend named Gustavo can be seen maneuvering their vessel toward the suspended woman, who appears unresponsive. In fact, they initially mistook Gaitan for a piece of driftwood until she raised her hands to signal for help, video showed.
The duo is seen trying to get the waterlogged woman’s attention by calling out in both Spanish and English. Unfortunately, Gaitan is unable to reply, with subsequent reports stating that she suffered from exhaustion and hypothermia, having been adrift for eight hours.
‘I was born again. God did not want me to die.’
The pair finally managed to retrieve the castaway using a rope attached to a life preserver they had thrown to her. The victim’s first words after being rescued were, ‘I was born again. God did not want me to die.’
Further attempts to make conversation and give her water backfired as Gaitan burst into tears on camera, apparently overcome with emotion.
The fisherman managed to bring the survivor to shore, where she was reportedly tended to by locals before being taken to the hospital.
After Gaitan was identified, the woman’s backstory came to light. As it turns out, the drifter had fallen out of touch with her family two years ago, and they had no idea where she was until now.
She later told RCN radio that her predicament was the culmination of 20 years of domestic abuse she said she suffered at the hands of her partner.
‘The abuse began in the first pregnancy. He beat me, he violently abused me,’ Gaitan told local media. ‘In my second pregnancy, the abuse continued and I could not get away from him because the girls were small.’
According to Gaitan, police only detained the alleged abuser for 24 hours, after which he would return home and resume assaulting her, according to the Mirror.
La mujer rescatada de aguas del mar Caribe en Salgar, Puerto Colombia, fue identificada como Angélica Gaitán, de 46 años, al ser atendida en el hospital de dicho corregimiento, y lo bueno es que goza de una salud estable. @salud_atlantico @ALCPTOCOLOMBIA pic.twitter.com/hYrx6HmCeW
— Jorge Jesús Montaño Acosta (@jormon26) September 26, 2020
Victim of domestic abuse?
In September 2018, Gaitan said her partner ‘broke my face and tried to kill me.’ Not able to stomach her situation any longer, the distraught woman ran away and ended up staying in Barranquilla for six months. An eventual attempt to seek help at a homeless shelter failed and she fell into a deep depression.
‘I did not want to continue with my life,’ said Gaitan, who later took a bus to the beach and ‘decided to jump into the sea.’ The survivor said she remembers little after that point since she became unconscious.
Police are still investigating the circumstances surrounding Gaitan’s disappearance and rescue.
Local media have since located Gaitan’s daughter, Alejandra Castiblanco, who along with her sister is currently raising money to move Gaitan to their home in Bogotá.
The whereabouts of the woman’s partner remains unknown.