Two fishermen were shocked to discover that what they initially thought was driftwood floating at sea off the coast of Colombia was a woman who was very much alive.
Contrary to conclusions drawn on social media, Gaitan was not actually floating in the ocean for two years but had gone missing in 2018 after her family was told she had gone to Ecuador to live with her brother.
Gaitan was found by Roland Visbal and a friend, by the name of Gustavo, on Saturday morning 1.5 miles off the town of Puerto Colombia on the Atlantic side of the country.
She was reportedly floating in the ocean for eight hours and drifting in and out of consciousness.
After being rescued, her first words were:
“I was born again, God did not want me to die.”
You can view the video of the rescue here:
In the video, Gaitan was pulled to the boat by a life preserver the men had thrown to her.
She was given water as her rescuers attempted to engage with her in both Spanish and English, but the distraught woman was unable to speak and broke down and cried as a result of being overcome with emotion by the end of the clip.
Incredible! Such a wonderful salvation can only be explained by the intervention of higher powers!God once again reminded of his power
— Ruslan (@ruslandzhebr) September 30, 2020
Subsequent reports indicated Gaitan had suffered from exhaustion and hypothermia after being in the water for eight hours.
The survivor was brought to shore where locals tended to her before she was taken to the hospital.
After being identified, news outlets discovered Gaitan had been a victim of domestic abuse for 20 years and had fallen into a deep depression.
Gaitan eventually shared her harrowing backstory with RCN radio, explaining:
“The abuse began in the first pregnancy. He beat me, he violently abused me.”
“In my second pregnancy, the abuse continued and I could not get away from him because the girls were small.”
This is completely insane. God bless the men who helped this poor woman they found floating in the water. Watching the video and hearing her story is heart wrenching. 🙏 #FOX35 @fox35orlando https://t.co/2ppNSjqszV
— Amy Kaufeldt FOX 35 (@Fox35Amy) September 30, 2020
In September 2018, things took a turn for the worse, and she finally decided to run away.
“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.”
“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 wound up in Barranquilla for six months.
After a failed attempt to seek a homeless shelter, Gaitan went into despair and made the decision to end her life.
“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.”
Gaitan said she took a bus to the beach “decided to jump into the sea.”
Local media managed to track down her daughter, Alejandra Castiblanco—who was unaware of her whereabouts for the past two years.
She told reporters:
“We don’t know who attacked her, or how she ended up in the sea.”
Castiblanco added that her mother had a history of health problems and began experiencing mental problems after suffering from a heart attack.
Castiblanco and her sister are raising money in the hopes of bringing their mother to the capital Bogota—where they live—so she can be under the care of family.
As for her rescuer, Visbal believes Gaitan would have drowned if she had been in the water for a longer time.
“So it turns out that I didn’t catch any fish that day either, but I fished a life. I think this was God’s purpose.”