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Boxing Day marred by drownings

Tuesday 29 December 2015 | Published in Regional

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APIA – Two people died on Boxing Day in Samoa – with the possibility of a third death – after a leisurely swim at Mulinu’u turned into a tragedy on Boxing Day

Among the dead is a seven-year-old boy, Paul Amerika Jr, and his mother who drowned. Another man also may have drowned at the same place but was still reported as missing.

The incident could have been deadlier had it not been for the courageous efforts of a police officer, Alesana Ieremia, who saved another young child.

Speaking to the Samoa Observer yesterday, the father of the deceased boy said he was still coming to terms with what had happened.

Amerika said the officer, who was admitted to hospital, saved his other child’s life.

“I went yesterday to see him at the hospital and I thanked him personally for the amazing job he did,” said Amerika.

According to the father, Officer Ieremia was out on police patrol and came across the incident.

He called in the Fire and Emergency Services Authority but did not wait for them to arrive as he raced straight in to help.

Amerika said his two sons stay with him at Vaitele. He said their mother had asked him if she could spend some time with them on Friday when they went for a swim. - PNC

Samoan boy drowns in New Zealand

HASTINGS – A Samoan family who moved to New Zealand for a better life just weeks ago are mourning the loss of a son.

Three-year-old Jimmy Atilua Laulu drowned at Ocean Beach, near Hastings, in a lagoon while on a family outing on Christmas Day.

Jimmy’s uncle Simi Laul described his nephew as a very happy, active young boy.

Laulu was not at the beach at the time of the tragedy. He was told they searched for about an hour before Jimmy was pulled from the lagoon.

Laulu said his brother was inconsolable after seeing his lifeless son.

“When he saw it was his son, it was like he ran out of breath – he couldn’t talk, he was just so sad. It’s a good lesson for parents to watch out for your kids.”

Director of Ocean Beach Surf Lifesaving Andy Callinicos said the life guards on patrol that day did the best job they could have.

“It’s obviously a very tragic event.”

He said parents needed to be supervising children at all times if they chose to let them in the lagoon.

Pacific Navigation Services director Tim Hutchins said it was a tragic loss for a family that had moved to New Zealand for a better life.

“With only recently moving to New Zealand and the excitement of being selected through the New Zealand immigration quota scheme, their year has ended in pieces.”

Hutchins said Pacific Island people had one of the highest rates of drowning in the country.

“It would be great to see specific in-language swimming programmes rolled out in New Zealand.”

He said it was a devastating loss not only for the family but also for the tight-knit church and Samoan community.

Bishop William Ah Kiong from the Heretaunga (Samoan) Ward said the family had travelled from Aleisa in Samoa to Hawke’s Bay to start a new life.

- Hawkes Bay Today