The fisherman who, against all odds, survived for 14 months while drifting at sea is now being sued for $1 million by the family of his dead shipmate. The lawsuit claims that the surviving fisherman ate his shipmate in order to survive.
Jose Salvador Alvarenga, a 36-year old fisherman from El Salvador paid $50 to 22-year old Ezequiel Cordoba to tag along on a fishing trip that was supposed to last two days. The ill-fated trip took place in November 2012 off of Mexico’s coast. A huge storm hit and his boat was left to drift.
In January 2014, Alvarenga washed ashore on the beach of a remote island in the Pacific Ocean after covering a distance of about 5,500 miles.
Alvarenga stumbled ashore scarred, heavily bearded and extremely underweight. Unfortunately, Cordoba died after two months at sea after surviving on just raw birds, turtles and rainwater.
According to Alvarenga, his mate’s health began to seriously decline after he became sick from eating raw meat. He soon began refusing any food at all. Alvarenga panicked at the thought of losing his only companion. When he realized that Cordoba was dying, he screamed at his friend, “Don’t leave me alone! You have to fight for life! What am I going to do here alone?”
After making Alvarenga promise not to eat his body after he died, Cordoba passed away.
After Cordoba’s death, Alvarenga began talking to the body, carrying on a conversation with himself. He would ask, “How do you feel? How was your sleep?” He would then answer himself saying, “I slept good, and you? Have you had breakfast?”
Alvarenga began hallucinating and finally, after six days, he came to his senses and dumped the body overboard.
Fourteen months after he set sail, Alvarenga’s boat washed up on the remote Ebon Atoll island where he was discovered by local fishermen. Not surprisingly, his story garnered international attention. However, many people wondered how Alvarenga was not more emaciated after eating such a minimal diet for over a year. Nonetheless, people were enthralled with this man’s survival story.
Almost two years after Alvarenga washed ashore, Cordoba’s family is now demanding a compensation of $1 million alleging that he was a victim of cannibalism.
Ricardo Cucalon, Alvarenga’s lawyer, is quite skeptical of the claims and he told local reporters that Alvarenga always has denied eating the corpose of his shipmate. Cucalon pointed out that the lawsuit was coincidentally filed just days after the publication of a book recounting Alvarenga’s ordeal.
He told a local paper that, “I believe that this demand is part of the pressure from this family to divide the proceeds of royalties.”