36-year-old fisherman from El Salvador, who miraculously survived being lost at sea for 15 months, was sued by the family of the deceased for $1 million for allegedly eating his fellow crew mate to ensure his own survival. It was the longest any castaway has survived at sea.
Salvador Alvarenga washed ashore the Marshall Islands in January of 2014 after setting off in November of 2012 from Mexico on what he thought would be a two-day fishing trip. According to The Telegraph, Alvarenga paid Ezequiel Cordoba, 22, $50 to accompany him. When a ferocious storm hit, communication was lost and their supplies were washed overboard the small fiberglass boat. Just before communication was lost, Alvarenga radioed the owner of the 25-foot boat, demanding to be rescued. His last words to land were, “Come now, I am really getting f*cked out here.”
Alvarenga and Cordoba survived several months at sea by catching fish, birds, and drinking urine, rainwater, and even turtle blood. One bird, however, made Cordoba extremely ill. A poisonous yellow-bellied sea snake was later discovered in the bird’s stomach.
According to Alvarenga, Cordoba refused to eat the raw meat that kept Alvarenga alive—perhaps because of the experience he had with the bird—and he eventually died of starvation. Before he died, Cordoba made Alvarenga promise to not eat his dead body and instead find his mother and tell her everything that happened. That promise was allegedly not kept, according to the family of the deceased.
According to The Telegraph, “Mr Alvarenga befriended the corpse, keeping it on the boat for six days and chatting to it, until he realized his own insanity and threw it overboard. ‘I could see my death was going to be very, very slow,’ he said. But against all odds, he survived. Mr Alvarenga washed up in the Marshall Islands, in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, in January 2014. Dazed and emaciated, he was found by a couple living on the island who took him in.”
Alvarenga is reunited with his mother and father after being lost at see for over one year. Photo: Reuters
In March of 2014, Mr. Alvarenga visited his fellow crew mate’s mother, Rosalia Rios, and delivered the message from her son. “He told him how he cried at Ezequiel’s death, talking to him, telling him that he wasn’t dead and was only asleep,” said Benedicto Perlera, Mr. Alvarenga’s lawyer at the time.
The Cordoba’s lawsuit came just days after the October release of Alvarenga’s book 438 Days: An Extraordinary True Story of Survival at Sea. Alvarenga’s attorney told The Telegraph he believes the lawsuit is simply the family’s attempt at pressuring Alvarenga to divide the royalties, despite having only sold 1,500 copies in the U.S.