It took Javier González a minute to reach the migrants who had been forced off the speedboat off the Spanish coast, but by the time he got there, one of them had already died.


Javier González and his crew were filming a promotional video on the beach of Sancti Petri on Spain’s Andalusian coast when they spotted a speedboat approaching the shore with more than twenty people on board.

Although the image was not unusual for González, as the beach is a “hotspot” for drug traffickers or incoming boats, what the Spaniard saw this time made his blood run cold.

The 27 North African migrants on the boat were thrown into the water one by one in the middle of the storm.

“There was a strong current, they couldn’t swim and they had a lot of clothes on. They swam against the current and drowned,” said González, who knows the area because he runs the Náuticas Gurri surfing school on the same beach, told Euronews.

“The ocean currents pushed them to the bottom,” he added.

When all the migrants on the boat were about 50 meters from the shore, the boat turned around and fled.

Then González grabbed his small dinghy and jumped into the sea with his son to save them.

“It took me about a minute to get into the sea and reach them, and when I did, one of them was already drowned face down,” González says.

“We started putting people in the boat, but some of them had white foam coming out of their mouths,” he added.

The rest of the team, who had stayed on land due to ignorance of the location and currents, called the emergency services and the police.

According to Spanish police, the boat’s occupants left Morocco in groups of up to 40 people who were abandoned at sea at various points on the Andalusian coast.

Of the 27 who jumped into this dangerous part of the sea, only eight made it to the beach, four died the same day and others may be missing.

The Spanish police are investigating.

Threatened at gunpoint

Since many of the migrants in the boat did not want to jump into the water because they could not swim and the boat could not get closer to shore without running aground, the smugglers used force to scare them away.

“One of the boys told us that they threatened him with a gun to make him jump. I saw the others being pushed because they refused to jump,” says González.

After he rescued them and they reached the shore, team members began resuscitating the migrants themselves, keeping them warm with their own clothing while they waited for emergency services.

In desperation, they did what they could until the professionals arrived.

“The protocol was terrible. It took the Red Cross twenty minutes to arrive, the Spanish police took half an hour, and only then did the ambulance arrive. The maritime rescue service didn’t even show up,” says González.


Many wonder what would have happened if the group of heroes hadn’t been there to save them.

“There were three or four who were very unwell. Others suffered from hypothermia,” he added.

Initial investigations indicate that the boat’s crew consisted of four people, two Spaniards and two Moroccans. It is also assumed that the migrants paid up to 5,000 euros each for the trip.

Following the incident, the National Police have launched an investigation into the deaths and members of the Criminal Investigation Department and forensic police brigades are deployed in the area.

Still, González complains that the area is known to be a “hotspot” for human traffickers and yet authorities are doing little to prevent such a situation.


“If we hadn’t been here… I’m not a professional, I wouldn’t have known how to help. The naval service should have been here,” he says.

Although the Spanish Canary Islands are the center of irregular immigration, accounting for 70% of disembarkations, arrivals to the Iberian Peninsula continue.

According to the Andalusian Human Rights Association, the distance between Spain and Africa is just 14 kilometers, and although this migration route cannot be compared to the Canary Islands, around 800 people have arrived in the area so far in 2023.

Nine people also died on the coast of Cadiz, which includes Sancti Petri beach.

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