Francis is still very present in Tajao, the small coastal town of Aricoa year after a trap hooked his leg and dragged him to the bottom of the sea off the coast of Granadilla when he was fishing with his brother, José Diego, on the family boat Punta Abona.
His disappearance triggered the largest private search that is remembered in the Canary Islands, in which fishermen and divers were involved for almost nine months, from the sea, and neighbors and volunteers, with raids along the coast. Despite 400 dives and sonar and self-propelled camera sweeps, his body could not be located.
Tomorrow will be one year since that fateful June 20, 2021 and family members and fishermen have remembered in DIARIO DE AVISOS a “very special, kind and family person, who never got angry”. And they have done it at the foot of the pier, the same one that saw Francis, 47, set sail and arrive so many times, eating bread, one of the most characteristic images of him.
“He told me that no one could understand what the sea meant to him. Being in the middle of the ocean in front of the horizon was his passion, his life, that’s how he felt and transmitted it, “his wife, Lidia Hernández, told this newspaper. His brother highlighted his desire for solidarity: “He was a very good companion, he cared more about others than himself, if you had to lend a hand to a companion on a rough day or tow a boat, he was there to help” .
The meeting was attended by Clara, Francis’ aunt; Dora, his mother-in-law; Melody, his sister-in-law, and her cousins Marina, Teri, Lolita and Aurora, as well as several fishermen, most of them family members, such as Pablo, Juan Manuel, Toño, Juan Carlos and Yeray. All agreed to underline his great sense of humor. “An uncle of his once had a dizzy spell and, while he was taking care of him, he blurted out: ‘But did you leave me something as an inheritance?’, they remember between smiles. When he arrived at his house, his mother’s or his mother-in-law’s, the liturgy was always the same: he entered and went to the kitchen to uncover the cauldron.
His colleagues provide some of his most common outlets: “When you told him: ‘Francis, we have to do this’, he replied: ‘That’s good that way’. But the phrase that was never lacking in his mouth was ‘everything comes out, except death’. And it is that Francis defused the problems with irony. In bad weather he put on a good face and he showed it every time he went out to fish with a swell.
His family continues to regret that the public administrations did not act more diligently in the first hours of the accident. “We told the Government Subdelegation that when a person falls into the sea, the search protocol must be activated immediately; What does a helicopter paint if the body is submerged? We cannot wait for it to come to the surface, ”says her cousin Marina, who remembers that Francis fell to a depth of 100 meters and his body became geolocated.
All emphasize that the first 24 hours were decisive and “they were not used because of the bureaucracy.” After that time, a sea storm ruined the hope of finding him in the place where he had fallen.
The comments draw the profile of a person with a big heart. “If he had a euro or 50 and found someone who needed it, she gave it to him; he was very selfless and was satisfied with little, ”comments his cousins. The great mobilization in the search for him was the best sign of the appreciation he earned.
Those who knew him best also highlight his facet as a conversationalist: “He talked to everyone, the same with children as with the elderly, he spent hours with them.” Dariana, his daughter, 15 years old, was his right eye. As a child, when she saw her father’s boat arrive, she went to meet her and asked her: “Did you bring me my mullet?” And Francis was drooling.
Teri does not forget the sunrises she shared with her cousin: “He was a very good party partner, whether it was Carnival, New Year’s Eve or the festivals in Tajao. I still remember the last year, the two of us sitting in front of the sea, he accompanied me to my house and then he went to his (he gets excited). He was very protective of the family from him.”
Next Tuesday a mass will be celebrated in San Isidro at 6:30 p.m. in memory of Francis, and his family has already contacted the Arico City Council to place, next to the Tajao pier, a plaque in his memory and in gratitude to those who participated. in your search. On April 12, the day the search was concluded, his companions submerged an image of the Virgen del Carmen next to his name in the mouth of the pier.
A year later, his family and friends are still mourning his loss, but after doing everything humanly possible to salvage his body, they assume that Francis is where he wanted to be, where he felt happy. There he rests in peace.