NEWS

Best Mates Die Trying To Save Pair in River

Mosese Mamafainoa Buka and Laisenia Lomavatu were best friends. They loved life and did things together. On Sunday, they made the ultimate sacrifice during a birthday party that turned tragic.
19 Jun 2018 11:01
Best Mates Die Trying To Save Pair in River
Laisenia Lomavatu (left), and Mosese Mamafainoa Buka during happier times.

Mosese Mamafainoa Buka and Laisenia Lomavatu were best friends.

They loved life and did things together.

On Sunday, they made the ultimate sacrifice during a birthday party that turned tragic.

They dived into the Sigatoka River to rescue two people in distress in swift currents.

But, they never made it back, swept under by the currents. Later their bodies were found and taken to Sigatoka Hospital.

Sailosi Navuku points out to where Mosese Mamaifanoa and Laisiasa Lomaitai  bodies were found on June 17, 2018, in the Sigatoka River.  Photo: Arieta Vakasukawaqa

Sailosi Navuku points out to where Mosese Mamaifanoa and Laisiasa Lomaitai
bodies were found on June 17, 2018, in the Sigatoka River.
Photo: Arieta Vakasukawaqa

The two targets of rescue, birthday boy Tevita Kuruilagi, 21, and Dezley Khan, in her twenties, made it safely to the banks.

Last night as families in this tragedy recounted the ordeal, they spoke of the courage and the selfless act of the two young men in their twenties.

Dezley Khan.

Dezley Khan.

John Khan of Nausori, father of Dezley, said: “I really feel for the boys’ families. I cried when I heard about it. It’s a tragedy when there are two deaths at one time.”

His daughter, also a university student, was expected to arrive on Suva today from Sigatoka.

She had told him the entire story earlier by phone.

Mr Buka and Mr Lomavatu were second year university students.

Mr Buka’s sister, Salaseini Duikoro, from Santa Rosa, California in the United States, said yesterday: “Only God knows how devastated we are about the sudden passing of my brother.

“My brother was a humble, kind hearted and a God-fearing man.

“He’s always full of smiles and too slow to get angry.

“My kids are surely going to miss their momo (uncle), especially his namesake.

“My mum is wailing every now and then to try and accept that the youngest of her three children has moved on.”

Ms Duikoro added that her brother was a man of strong faith who was always willing to help others.

He will be missed, she said.

Isei Vuli shows a photo of his late nephew Mosese Mamafainoa Buka at Kinoya, Suva on June 18, 2018.   Photo: Selita Bolanavanua

Isei Vuli shows a photo of his late nephew Mosese Mamafainoa Buka at Kinoya, Suva on June 18, 2018.
Photo: Selita Bolanavanua

The whole family now resides in California, except for Mr Buka who stayed with his uncle in Kinoya. He was studying at the University of the South Pacific.

He had just returned from California three weeks ago after visiting the family in Santa Rosa.

His mother, Marica Muavesi, said, she pleaded with his son not to return to Fiji, but he insisted because he wanted to study to become a Methodist minister.

“Isa my handsome pei (baby),” she grieved.

His uncle Isei Vuli said: “After the birthday, on Saturday, I told my nephew that we should be heading back to Suva. He looked at me and said that we should take the lead and he will come later with his friends.

“I did not know that that was going to be the last time we spoke.”

Mr Vuli said his nephew was a good lad who was always dedicated to Church events.

“He does not drink or smoke and he wanted to be a pastor,” he said.

“A humble and a kind hearted boy, we will miss him.”

Mr Lomavatu’s distraught family members said they were too traumatised to talk.

Edited by Jonathan Bryce

Feedback: selita.bolanavanua@fijisun.com.fj

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