PORT OF BROWNSVILLE, TEXAS – A group of Texas fishermen made a gruesome discovery while out shrimping in the Gulf of Mexico. What they first thought was trash floating in the water was really a man’s body, found decomposing on a makeshift raft.
It was Jonathan Pena’s first time out on a shrimp boat when he made the unlikely discovery of a man’s body, found adrift at sea. He documented the finding on his cell phone.
“That’s when it was just like, wow, wow, wow, wow,” he said as he played back the video for us.
The 24-year-old described what he saw as a decomposing body of a bearded man, laying half naked on top of an inflatable tube, with a pod of dolphins swimming nearby.
“That’s the first thing that really affected me, was seeing how gruesome it was and that he put himself in that situation just to come over here,” he said. “That’s what really stays with me the most.”
The captain of the Lady Nora radioed the U.S. Coast Guard. A helicopter arrived to help recover the body within minutes.
That was two weeks ago. Now the Nueces County coroner’s office tells us, the man is a Cuban immigrant that sailed from the island with 12 others on a larger raft on June 30. But after days lost at sea, seven of them split off and made it to Mexico, while the other six were nowhere to be found.
The images remain vivid in Pena’s mind; a lasting impression that caused him to change his views on immigration.
“There could be other people out there and people probably are still trying to come today, probably making the same trip decision that this guy made and that’s what you really think about, knowing that if it doesn’t work out, that’s what is going to happen to you,” he said.
Pena, a military veteran, said he will likely go back shrimping, but won’t do it for long.
He said this event has inspired him to start fighting for sensible policies in favor of those who are risking their lives for the American dream.