Jose Salvador Alvarenga, the famous fisherman who was lost at sea for 14 months, is being sued for $1 million by the family of the crew member who Alvarenga set sail with. Ezequiel Cordoba was Alvarenga’s crew mate. Cordoba’s mother alleges that Alvarenga turned to cannibalism in order to survive.
In November of 2012, Jose and Ezequiel set sail from Tapachula, Mexico. The fishing trip that the two men were going on was only going to be a two-day excursion. Alvarenga was not seen again until he was rescued 438 days later. Alvarenga told officials that his boat was blown off course by a storm with severe winds. The heavy winds damaged the electrical system on the boat and the two fishermen were unable to communicate for help. Alvarenga is the only man known to have survived for over a year by being lost at sea. When he was rescued, he was alone. Cordoba’s body was not in the boat.
When he was rescued, Jose talked about what the two men did in order to stay alive. Alvarenga said that he and Cordoba were able to survive by catching fish for food. For water, they had to resort to drinking urine, turtle blood, and rainwater.
“I was so hungry that I was eating my own fingernails, swallowing all the little pieces.”
The health of Ezequiel Cordoba began to deteriorate after a couple months. Jose claims that Cordoba’s mental health was so bad that he refused to eat anything and he eventually died from starvation. Alvarenga spoke with The Guardian and told them that he made a promise to Cordoba that if he was rescued he would locate Cordoba’s mother and tell her that her son said goodbye.
He did not get rid of Cordoba’s body after he died. Jose said that he kept his friend’s body on the boat and would speak to it as if he was still alive. He did this for six days. He states that he finally dumped the body overboard on the sixth day.
“As I slid him into the water, I fainted.”
Jose’s boat finally came ashore on the Marshall Islands, 6,700 miles away from where the boat took off from. Salvador kept his promise and located Cordoba’s mother, Rosalia Diaz Cueto. He told her about what happened and gave her the goodbye message from her son. After Salvador’s rescue in February 2014, Rosalia told reporters from the Associated Press that she does not blame Jose for the death of her son.
“I want it understood that I am not blaming this person, Alvarenga, nor am I declaring him guilty of anything.”
Now, Rosalia and her family are suing Jose Alvarenga because they believe that he turned to cannibalism and consumed the body of Cordoba in order to survive for as long as he did. The lawsuit from Cordoba’s family was filed only a few days after Jose’s book about his ordeal was published. The attorney representing Alvarenga denies the claim of cannibalism and the family is suing because they believe Jose Alvarenga now has a lot of money coming in from his book.
“I believe that this demand is part of the pressure from this family to divide the proceeds of royalties. Many believe the book is making my client a rich man, but what he will earn is much less than people think.”
Do you think that Jose Alvarenga was telling the truth about dumping the body of Ezequiel Cordoba overboard, or do you think that he did turn to cannibalism in order to survive for as long as he did? Do you think you would be able to survive for as long as Alvarenga did if you were lost at sea?
[Image Via AP Photo/Salvador Melendez]