Adrian Vasquez
Adrian Vasquez, 18, was rescued after being lost at sea for 28 days. He was welcomed by relatives as he arrived at the Tocumen International Airport in Panama City on Tuesday. Reuters

Adrian Vasquez, a missing 18-year old from Rio Hato, Panama, was found after being lost at sea for 28 days. He was rescued by the Ecuadorean navy on Sunday, 600 miles from his starting point, after being spotted by the crew of a commercial fishing vessel.

Two friends of Vasquez, Oropeces Betancourt, 24, and Fernando Osario, 16, were with him when the fishing trip began. They had brought a large container of water and caught many fish, but things took a turn for the worse when their motor died unexpectedly.

Their jugs of fresh water ran out and their catch went rotten, reports AP. First Betancourt and then Osario died at sea, leaving Vasquez to push their decomposing bodies overboard and face the elements alone.

The three had been depending on rainwater and raw fish to stay alive. Vasquez nearly died himself of dehydration, but a sudden rainstorm on March 19 saved his life.

A thin and malnourished Vasquez was drifting near the Galapagos Islands when he was spotted by men on a skiff from the commercial fishing boat Duarte V. He was then taken aboard an Ecuadorian coast guard vessel, the Isla Espaniola, where he told his story to Captain Hugo Espinosa.

He didn't know what was happening, said Espinosa to AP. He was quiet, looking lost.

Vasquez asked for two phone calls: one to his mother, and another to his employer, the Decameron Hotel, to explain his recent absence.

In the care of the Ecuadorian crew, Vasquez rested and underwent treatment for dehydration. Little by little he began to react, said Espinosa. But the subject of his dead friends made him stay silent and lower his gaze. It cost him a lot to discuss the matter.

On Tuesday, Vasquez arrived at Panama City's Tocumen International Airport and shed a few tears as family members embraced him. He made no statements to the attendant media before his parents took him home to Rio Hato.