Police have identified run-away driver;  Survivor Eliki tells: Driver left us to die Survivor Eliki Tukana says the driver of the car in a crash which killed two men was
27 Apr 2016 12:15
Samabula crash survivor Eliki Tukana at the Colonial War Memorial Hospital yesterday. Photo: Jessica Gounder

Police have identified run-away driver;  Survivor Eliki tells: Driver left us to die

Survivor Eliki Tukana says the driver of the car in a crash which killed two men was heartless for failing to help them.

He was speaking from his Colonial War Memorial Hospital bed yesterday for the first time since the car veered off Ratu Mara Rd, Samabula, Suva, and plunged down a cliff.

Police yesterday identified the driver as Ponipate Turagalevu, 49, of Naiyala Settlement, Tacirua.

Turagalevu has been put on the Police Wanted List (Full list >P18).

Eliki, 19, recalled the events of a fun-filled Saturday night that led to the terrible tragedy on Sunday morning. His brother, Kitione Tukana, 21, and cousin, Epeli Duaibe, 19, died. Another passenger, Atu Rokosuka, 24, who is Eliki’s friend, is in critical condition at Intensive Care Unit

Eliki said: “We were attending a social night that night and everyone was having fun. No one knew what was about to happen.

“We came to town and tried to stop a taxi but taxi drivers were choosing their passengers and wouldn’t stop even though it was empty.

“This rental car stopped and then we asked him to take us home to Cunningham. He took the cab fare from us and as soon as everyone got in we all shut our eyes because we all were so tired from the night.”

He said he woke up when he felt the vehicle travelling dangerously at high speed.

“I could feel something was wrong. When I looked around we were in front of Courts Samabula. The driver continued to accelerate, exceeding the speed limits.

“I looked to the right where the driver was and I saw this black cab and they were like racing and the people in the taxi were cheering on the driver so they raced and he wanted to overtake this taxi right at the bend.

“With the speed he was on I am sure he wasn’t going to be able to control the car. When he took pass the car jumped off to the driveway of the footpath down a cliff. I was helpless. I couldn’t do anything. I couldn’t save my brothers or anything.

“The only thing I did was crouch in the space between the dash board and the seat hoping it would save me and it did. After we landed at the bottom of the cliff, I shook myself trying to get out of the car. I looked to the back, everyone was just covered in blood so I called out to everyone but there was no response,” Eliki said.

Eliki said the driver was mean and ran away leaving them to die.

He claimed: “The driver was standing there and I asked him to help my brother out and the cousin and my friend but all he did was just look at me and then he ran away.

“He did not even say sorry or attempt to pull us out.”

Eliki claimed that a couple living at Bay View Heights had taken a video of the driver.

“They took the video of him walking around the car straight after the accident then he was picking up things from us. They actually took a video of him running away.”

Eliki said he used to roam around with Rokosuka in town.

“We are good friends. I take him for lunch and we give him money because he is a shoe shine boy,” he said.

“I had asked him to come and join us that night. I regretted it. If only we knew what was going to happen we would not have gone.”

Edited by Nemani Delaibatiki



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