Brazilian Messianic influencer Pablo Marçal’s disaster hike to salvation sparks attempted murder investigation

RIO DE JANEIRO—Brazilian influencer Pablo Marçal, a 34-year-old “messianic life coach” with more than 2 million Instagram followers, thought it was a good idea to lead dozens of his followers into a spiritual hike on the colossal Pico dos Marins mountain, one of the highest in the state of São Paulo and the site of multiple cases of missing persons and deaths over the years.

Forget the cold weather, heavy rain and strong wind warnings issued that day; not to mention the lack of preparation and equipment of his followers, or the inexperience of Marçal as a hiking guide. The grueling expedition began in the early hours of January 5 and led to an investigation into an attempted homicide.

It didn’t take long for some members of the group to realize that their ascent of the 8,000-foot-high mountain might have been reckless, given the conditions and their lack of expertise. Footage taken by the hikers and widely shared on Instagram showed heavy rain, thick fog and gusty winds that nearly destroyed the tents they had set up along the way. Of the 67 followers who embarked on the journey, about 30 gave up in the middle of the hike and returned to the base of the mountain, and at least a dozen more stopped climbing two kilometers from the summit, according to a firefighter involved in the rescue who spoke with The Daily Beast.

“They were frightened and totally soaked, their spirits shaken.”

“When we found this group that was left behind…I could see the relief on their faces. They couldn’t even get down on their own, as they were disabled and disoriented,” Sergeant Douglas said Nogueira: “They were scared and completely soaked, their spirits shaken. In this group, there were no old people, but many obviously did not have the ideal physical condition to do the trail, especially at night and when it was rained.

The remaining supporters ended up making their way to the top of the mountain with Marçal, only for some of them to realize that they couldn’t come back down in one piece due to bad weather conditions and low visibility. São Paulo state firefighters were dispatched to rescue the group around 3:30 a.m. on January 6 in an operation that lasted nine hours.

In the weeks that followed, millionaire life coach Pablo Marçal – who charges up to $5,000 for life-enhancing “courses” on his website that promise to “unlock” the path to a better life social and professional – has become the target of the fury of the Brazilian authorities, the local hiking community and the general public. The São Paulo District Attorney’s Office deemed his actions so serious that they told The Daily Beast that Marçal was currently under investigation for the crime of attempted homicide.

“A police investigation is ongoing into alleged crimes of attempted murder, as event attendees may have died of hypothermia,” a spokesperson for the district attorney’s office said in a statement to The Daily. beast. The spokesperson added that, in accordance with a new court order, Marçal was also prohibited “from carrying out any outdoor activity in nature without prior and express authorization from the military police, the town hall and the defense local civilian” under the pretext of being “a coach or in motivational programs.”

During the trek, Marçal was filmed encouraging his followers to move forward, occasionally stopping to pray for better weather. “I know in my heart that we can make it up there. It will be the worst experience of my life…but we just ask the Lord to turn the wind,” he was caught saying. A woman can be heard asking Marçal what his children would do “if something happened to me”. The influencer replied, “Do you trust God?

Marçal, who did not respond to multiple requests for comment from The Daily Beast, told Brazil Globe media: “Everyone is there to say: Pablo is irresponsible. I am irresponsible for my own life. So everyone has to take care of themselves.

In a YouTube video posted a day after the incident, the life coach offered an equally unapologetic response. “If you are a person who does not take risks, you will find it difficult to govern or reach the top. During our ascent of the mountain yesterday, we took a lot of risks,” he said. “So someone said to me: But why take a risk? If you don’t want to take the risk, stay home and watch the stories. He added that he never “sent anyone” up the mountain himself.

Marçal is no stranger to controversy. In 2010, the influencer was convicted of aggravated robbery after helping a criminal gang embezzle money from multiple banks using malware. Last year, a life coach’s failed attempt to walk a paraplegic woman was caught on video (“Damn it,” he said, after realizing his miracle crack deal had publicly failed), which earned him the ire of disabled activists across Brazil.

Although everyone on the January 5 hike escaped unscathed, the incident was described by firefighters involved in the rescue as “totally irresponsible” and “the worst action ever seen on Pico dos Marins”.

On social media, mountaineers and professional guides blasted Marçal with posts about the incident that made the rounds on Instagram in Brazil. In a video posted by a popular hiking account, a group of climbers came together to create a satirical video with a united message to the influencer: “Respect the mountain”.