Shipwreck in Florida, in the middle of the sea on the overturned hull: a Colombian is the only survivor

from Marta Serafini

22-year-old Juan Esteban Montoya was rescued after more than 24 hours adrift. 39 other people traveled with him, including his younger sister. 5 bodies recovered

He was very weak and distressed. Alone, in the middle of the sea, on the overturned hull of a boat on which he had boarded with 39 other people, including his sister. Juan Esteban Montoya, 22, Colombian passport, the only survivor of yesterday’s shipwreck off the Florida coast. To discover his identity, the Bbc.

As Montoya himself said, on January 23 when the boat leaves Bimini in the Bahamas. None of the passengers wear a life jacket. After four hours of navigation, due to bad weather, the boat overturns. The others try to hold on to the hull but can’t. The waves are high and the Gulf currents are unforgiving. Only Juan Esteban resists and remains there alone in the middle of the sea. Then, on Tuesday morning, the castaway is spotted by the tug Signet Intruder, en route between Jacksonville (Florida) and Puerto Rico. The incredible scene and from the bridge of the Intruder take an image that goes around the world. At 8:05 we took him aboard and he was treated immediately, he was dehydrated, we gave him water and soft food. He was very weak and very distressed, the tugboat captain explained to Bbc.

As per protocol, the survivor was handed over to the United States Coast Guard in the coastal town of Fort Pierce. But first, the tugboat crew members had a brief conversation with Montoya. He told us there were 40 people in total on his boat, including himself. About twenty of them would have clung to the remains of the hull for hours, but when we arrived, at 8 on Tuesday morning, there was only him. The young Colombian was traveling with his younger sister, Mara Camila, who disappeared in the shipwreck, as his mother also confirmed to a local Florida TV.

After having recovered five bodies, and after having plumbed 27,000 square kilometers, the US Coast Guard yesterday declared the search concluded. After careful consideration of all available information, including weather conditions, the number of people who fell into the water without life jackets, the time elapsed since the time of the accident and relentless research over an area larger than MassachusettsWith a heavy heart that I have decided to suspend search operations, said Captain Jo-Ann Burdian

Overloaded boat accidents are not uncommon in the waters off Florida. Many of the cases involve migrants from Cuba and Haiti trying to reach the United States. On the same day as the shipwreck, the Coast Guard intercepted 191 Haitian citizens at sea near the Bahamas. A few days earlier, 88 Haitians had been found in another overloaded boat in the area.

The US authorities did not disclose the identity or nationality of the deceased or missing. The Department of Homeland Security opened a criminal investigation for human trafficking. Special Agent Anthony Salisbury said Thursday that the Department, in collaboration with other authorities, will seek to identify, arrest and prosecute the perpetrators.


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