Diego Barría, 32, had been missing since Saturday, February 18. The quad he was driving was found destroyed on a beach in the Patagonian province of Chubut, in southern Argentina, but searches of the surrounding area did not provide any clues as to his whereabouts. The resolution of the case came eight days later, when two fishermen found human remains inside a small school shark they caught. They took the remains, including part of a forearm, to the police on Sunday. Barría’s family recognized a tattoo on the forearm, making it possible to identify Barría. The justice system is now working to try to clarify what happened.
Barría, a father of three children, was last seen shortly before midnight on February 18th, when he was returning to his country home on his ATV. On the way, he stopped to greet some fishing friends and told his wife that he was running a bit late. However, he did not return home that night nor the next night. He also did not respond to any text messages or answer phone calls. Having not heard from him for two days, his relatives decided to go to the police to report him as a missing person.
The agents began to search the area where he was lost and after 40 hours located his badly damaged vehicle and a little farther away his helmet, which had been split in two. Barría’s body, however, had vanished. “We can’t take this anymore. Please turn up. I’m staying strong for the kids, but I don’t know how long I’ll be able to keep it up. Don’t be rebellious, give us a sign!” his wife Virginia Brugger wrote on Facebook a couple of days before the fishermen’s discovery.
According to the fishermen’s account, on Sunday they caught three school sharks, a kind of shark about five feet long, in the waters off Caleta Olivia. When they opened the animal to remove its guts, they found skin, fat and human flesh. The remains corresponded to a forearm and the tattoo of a green and red rose was still recognizable. That detail allowed his family to identify Barría, although police have anticipated that a DNA test will be conducted. “We and the prosecutor’s office need to carry it out scientifically,” police superintendent Cristian Ansaldo told local media.
Ansaldo added that the search for more remains continues in the water and on land with the help of divers and dogs. They hope to find out why Barría went into the water and how it is possible that he was eaten by a shark.
“One of the strongest hypotheses is that [Barría] collided with a rock [while driving the ATV] and that his body was carried away by the sea, but we are going to handle all the possible theories with the evidence found at the site,” said the commissioner. “The vehicle will be analyzed to establish how the accident happened, because the vehicle was found further towards the coast, but it could have been moved there by the waves”, he added.
“My heart went with you! I love you forever,” his wife wrote on social media after hearing the news.
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