A Venezuelan man was attacked by a shark moments before the Dutch Caribbean Coast Guard tried to reach him and his crew during a daring rescue operation Saturday after their boat capsized in the waters off Aruba.
Dutch Caribbean Coast Guard spokesman Roderick Gouverneur told The Associated Press that the shark attacked the man as he was clinging to a rescue buoy and a member of the Coast Guard suspended from a helicopter was trying to rescue him. He said the man – who was identified by local media as 58-year-old ship captain Adrian Esteban Rafael, according to the IB Times -- died Saturday on the way to the hospital.
Two other men perished when they sank with the vessel, the Doña Matilde.
A man who identified himself as a Dutch Caribbean Coast Guard officer posted on his Twitter account pictures purportedly showing the rescue.
Kustwacht Carib redt vier opvarenden van gezonken Venezolaans barkje Doña Matilde. pic.twitter.com/9h1DCoIdBh— Roel Uckerman (@UckermanRoel) December 20, 2015
Four crew members who survived by holding on to a refrigerator and pallet were hospitalized in Aruba for dehydration and were still recovering Tuesday.
The men were traveling from Bonaire to Aruba to sell whiskey when their boat capsized after it was hit by a wave, Gouverneur said.
Venezuelans often travel on boats laden with goods to sell throughout the Dutch Caribbean islands.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.