Jose Salvador Alvarenga's story is almost a classic account of a castaway lost at sea, but now a 2015 lawsuit by the family of his dead crewmate, Ezequiel Cordoba, is claiming the survival of the El Salvador fisherman is not a miracle, but a grisly tale of a cannibal castaway.
In a related report by The Inquisitr, the story begins almost three years ago when Alvarenga took his teenage companion out to sea from Souther Mexico in order to go shark fishing. Although the shark fisherman was warned of rough weather, he set out anyway and his boat was blown way off course. The storm destroyed the boat's communication system and the supplies were washed overboard.
The vessel was adrift in the open oceans of the Pacific for nearly 14 months before it washed up in the Marshall Island, which is about 6,700 miles away. Officials eventually found the man stranded on a coral atoll.
El Salvador's castaway claimed he survived only by catching and eating fish, birds, and turtles. As for fluids, he drank rain water, turtle blood, and even their own urine. One time he apparently became so hungry that he scooped jellyfish up with his bare hands and swallowed them whole.
"It burned the top part of my throat, but wasn't so bad," he said.
The story was so amazing that the family of Alvarenga hailed the discovery of the castaway as a miracle.
"We thought he was dead already. This is a miracle, glory to God," said the man's mother.
Castaway who survived 15 months adrift sued by dead crewmate's family who claim he ate him https://t.co/zRGKbqlQ3g pic.twitter.com/73NOAqDkscNot everyone was so quick to believe the castaway's story. Gee Bing, the Marshall Island's acting Secretary of Foreign Affairs, seemed to be suspicious based upon certain parts of the story.
— The Australian (@australian) December 16, 2015
"I'm not sure if I believe his story," he said at the time. "When we saw him, he was not really thin compared to other survivors in the past. I may have some doubts. Once we start communicating with where he's from, we'll be able to find out more information."
Villermino Rodriguez, a fishing boat owner who had once employed Alarenga, also said elements of the castaway's story did not add up.
"You can imagine a lot of things, but that is something he should explain," Rodriguez said. "There are things that don't match up. I knew him, but I have a lot of doubts."
Alvarenga also claimed that Ezequiel Cordoba died a month into the ordeal by refusing to eat after becoming sick from eating raw seabirds. According to Newser, the man "teetered on the edge of sanity," speaking with the rotting corpse for almost a week before he realized he was losing his mind. He eventually pushed the body overboard some time in March, but the hardest part of surviving afterward was the loneliness.
"I could see my death was going to be very, very slow," he said.
It is claimed that before Cordoba died he made Alvarenga promise not to eat his corpse, and he also asked that the older fisherman deliver a message to his mother, Rosalia Rios. The El Salvador fisherman kept his promise, but by April of 2015, the family began demanding money. The family of Cordoba are now also claiming the dead crewman was the victim of cannibalism, and they are demanding a $1 million compensation.
According to the Telegraph, Alvarenga's lawyer, Ricardo Cucalon, denied this claim, and noted that the lawsuit was filed just days before Jose Salvador Alvarenga's story was published in a book called 438 Days: An Extraordinary True Story of Survival at Sea.
"I believe that this demand is part of the pressure from this family to divide the proceeds of royalties," the lawyer said. "Many believe the book is making my client a rich man, but what he will earn is much less than people think."
The lawyer says the book about the survivor has only sold 1,500 copies in the United States since being published earlier in 2015, but now that the story of the alleged cannibal castaway has gone out it's possible this may change.
World's longest-surviving castaway is being sued after accusations of 'eating his colleague' https://t.co/3bgzlEWkddpic.twitter.com/KK0ikWu7oT[Image via AP Photo/Marco Ugarte]
— The Telegraph (@Telegraph) December 15, 2015