Girl, 10, Drowns in Dreketi – Family Shattered

“I grabbed her hand. I held it tightly, but the current pulling her under was really strong. It was so strong that it pulled from my grip."
15 Nov 2021 11:59
Girl, 10, Drowns in Dreketi – Family Shattered
Family of the late Temalesi Votea. Sitting: Kalaveti Rokosui, Sakiusa Josua, Kirisitiana Buasega with a picture of Tema from a phone. Back: Manoa Ratunaisiwa, Sakiusa Sakaru(first life saver), Joeli Fotowaika. Inset-right: Temalesi Votea. Photo: Laisa Lui

Her hands were the last thing children of Nabiti Village in Dreketi saw as 10-year-old Temalesi Votea was sucked under the water on Saturday.

She had become caught in a vortex created by a whirlpool.

She was swimming with other children of the village in the Nabiti River. It had rained the previous night and the waters were muddy as well. The current was stronger than usual.

Her parents, Kalaveti Rokosui and Kirisitiana Buasega, are still in disbelief. She was their youngest child and the only girl in a family with four boys.

As Temalesi was drowning, Sakiusa Sakarau, 11, was the closest to her. He was on a bamboo raft (bilibili).

“I saw her hand, I knew straight away that she was drowning and needed help,” Sakiusa said.

“I grabbed her hand. I held it tightly, but the current pulling her under was really strong. It was so strong that it pulled from my grip.

“I tried again and again, but it was like something was pulling her down.”

Emotional father, Kalaveti Rokosui said he joined a group of men who had already ran ahead to revive his daughter.

Mr Rokosui said his cousin Sikeli was the one who found his daughter’s body.

“On the third time, he felt Tema’s hair and came up for air and then dived down again and brought her to the surface and tried to resuscitate her,” he said.

“When I carried my daughter out of the water her body was heavy. I tried to resuscitate her and only saliva was coming out.

“We then rushed her to the hospital.”

drowning 1

Mr Rokosiu said he had named his daughter after his mother.

Mother Kirisitiana Buasega said she was surprised to learn Temalesi had gone to the river. She saw her taking a nap after lunch at a birthday party.

“Other children had gone for a swim and I had told her not to go and to go to sleep,” Mrs Buasega said.

“That was the last conversation I had with her.”

The last drowning in Nabiti Village was 25 years ago in the same spot.

In a statement issued yesterday, the Fiji Police Force said they would be performing an autopsy this week.


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