The Colombia woman who was rescued at sea by fishermen has a history of mental health issues that may have contributed to the bizarre saga in which she was off the grid for two years, her family said.
Paula Castiblanco said she believes that her mother, Angelica Gaitan, suffers from psychological trauma that played a role in her becoming lost at sea more than a mile off the coast of Puerto Colombia, Colombian outlet El Heraldo reported.
“We think that during that period of time that she was missing, perhaps something could have happened to her that caused her psychological trauma,” her daughter told the outlet.
She added that her mother had long grappled with panic attacks, which were often brought on by the sight of high-end cars.
“Every time she saw a high-end car she would scream and say that they were coming for her [and] that we shouldn’t let her get on those cars. She covered her head and said that a man would come for her,” Castiblanco said.
Viral video taken by her rescuers showed Gaitan floating at sea before she was pulled from the water by the two men.
She was brought to a hospital to be treated for hypothermia and exhaustion, having apparently been adrift for eight hours, according to reports.
She later told local media that she had been out of touch with her family for two years after escaping domestic violence, the Mirror reported.
Describing how she ended up out at sea, Gaitan said, “I did not want to continue with my life.”
Her daughter, Paula, said she lost contact with her mother after the woman left in September 2018 with a brother to Ecuador, the outlet reported.
The family only received word about her whereabouts in March when her father was notified by their health insurance that her mother had scheduled a psychologist appointment, El Heraldo reported.
“Later we found out that she was in Barranquilla, in a homeless shelter, but we cannot say how she got to that city,” Castiblanco said.
Gaitan has since been reunited with some of her family members, and police are continuing to investigate the circumstances surrounding her disappearance and rescue, the outlet reported.