Police Call Off Search for Body of Second Boy in Tragic Samalaeulu Drowning

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The body of the missing boy was sighted between the rocks earlier in the week.

Search and rescue efforts to  recover the body of the second boy who drowned while swimming in Samalaeulu last Sunday 30th January have been called off.

The two young men are first cousins who were brought up together by grandparents, as brothers.

Commissioner of the Fire and Emergency Services Authority (FESA) Tanuvasa Petone Mauga said the decision to call off the rescue mission was made after discussions between Police and FESA first responders leading the search on the ground.

Deputy Commissioner of Samoa Police Prisons and Corrections Services (SPPCS) Auapaau Logoitino Filipo confirmed the same during a media press conference on Wednesday.

“O le taimi nei o lea ua taofi suesuega a leoleo ma e tasi lava le tino na mafai ona maua mai ae ona o le tulaga o le aave o galu ma le leaga o le tau .”

Rough seas and strong undercurrents pulled the boys beneath the huge volcanic rocks of Savaii’s coastline.

According to family members, the two boy in their early 20s are first cousins. They had gone swimming with other young men of the village in a place known as Solomea when one boy got caught by undercurrents.

 

“The other tried to rescue his cousin but could not fight off the pull of fiercely strong currents and rough seas in the area,” an uncle had said.

Authorities say Fagamalo police and members of FESA in Savaii responded on Sunday night before a joint mission was despatched from Upolu on Monday morning. At the time Commissioner Tanuvasa Petone Mauga said his FESA Commander coordinating the joint operation in Savaii, had reported “extremely rough conditions with very strong inshore surges”.

The body of one boy was recovered on Monday however the search for the second boy has been unsuccessfull.

A first cousin of the boys told Samoa Global News this was a devastating double tragedy for their family.

“We’re very close because we were all brought up by our grandparents as brothers and sisters..

Grieving family members understand the difficult conditions in the area.

“The hardest thing is to not be able to lay them both to rest, but we understand the decision of police because the sea is very rough and no-one can go down between those rocks”.

“E lē o mafai ona o iai i lalo nisi e taumafai e aumai lona tino, ona o loo mau i va o papa”.

Savaii has had its share of tragic drownings in the recent past.  In June 2020 the Nafanua police patrol boat was despatched to respond to a triple death tragedy in Neiafu, Savaii. Two brothers and their cousin had gone fishing on the lava rocks at Neiafu, when high tide and a strong sea surge dragged one of the boys, a 12 year old, out to sea. His 18 year old brother jumped in to try and save him.

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The cousin reported the incident to his family and the boys’ father went into the ocean after his boys.

 

Last September a fisherman from Salei’a Savaii was found dead at sea. At the time, DC Auapaau had said the 32 year old was out fishing alone on Saturday morning and his body was found by other village fishermen, who say he was stuck under coral at sea.

In July 2021 a 59 year old man of Faga, Savaii was found dead faced down on a beach by villagers.

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SPPCS and FESA convey their condolences to the grieving family and offer caution to parents.

Fire and Emergency Services Authority Commissioner Tanuvasa Petone Mauga urges parents and guardians to warn their children of the dangers of the ocean especially in reef-less areas of Savaii where ocean waves hit the volcanic coastline.

“Please make the safety of our children and youth a priority especially at this time while Samoa is on Level 2 lockdown”.