Family heartbreak

By Nefertiti Matatia ,

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Sivao Tasi with her granddaughter Taheda, holding a framed photo of Jacob.

Sivao Tasi with her granddaughter Taheda, holding a framed photo of Jacob.

Sivao Tasi, the grandmother of a three-year-old toddler who suffocated in car two weeks ago, has opened up about the heartbreaking experience her family is going through.

Jacob Toa’i Key suffocated in a family car where he was found dead in Vaitoloa

His body was laid to rest last Saturday.

Jacob is the eldest of two siblings. 

He is the son of Telesia and Simeti Key from the villages of Alamagoto and Vaitoloa.

During an interview with the Samoa Observer, Mrs. Tasi, 50, said she continues to have nightmares about his death. She said her grandson’s passing is something that would stay with her forever.

“The car he died in was a small Getz, his parents’ car,” she said. 

“My other daughter found my grandson in the car not breathing. All the windows of the car were up.”

She says Jacob’s parents live at Alamagoto. They both work. Before they go to work, every morning Jacob is dropped off at Vaitoloa. The same thing happened that day."

 “My daughter usually comes here with her husband and leaves the car here and gets dropped off to work by her father in our pickup truck,” she added.

The mother of nine says the incident is a wake up call to her as a parent. 

“With what has happened it is an important lesson for me as a parent,” she said. 

“Despite the busyness and the many chores, I should always prioritise looking after my children. Leave some duties for some other time, but focus on the children.”

Mrs. Tasi added that on the day when Jacob died, nobody was aware when he got inside the car. She was cooking home made chips to sell.

“We make chips to earn money for a living and we make deliveries to shops that make orders." 

“No one else makes the chips; it is just me and my husband because most of my children are at work."

“I don’t know what time that he jumped into his parents’ car, but I think it is around 1:30pm to 2pm."

“When I left the house in front, all the kids were there.  It is my 12-year-old daughter who mostly stays here with the kids who found Jacob,” she said.

She shared that week most of her children stayed with her and did not attend school because of Cyclone Gita.

“All the kids were sitting in the house watching television except for Jacob. This was after 1pm. We were trying to fix our pickup truck, while Jacob was observing what was happening.”

Mrs. Tasi said Jacob was watching his grandfather and uncle the whole time they were fixing the car.

“The kid has a habit of jumping inside the car for a ride every time my husband goes somewhere. Every time he calls out ‘Papa can I come with you’, but I don’t know why this time around he didn’t call his grandfather if he could go with him.”

Before the grandfather left, Jacob was still sitting in front of the house, but she recalls that there was a time when her 12-year-old daughter called out if Jacob was at the back where she was and she responded that there was no one there, and that all the kids were in the house.

“When the old man came back after dropping off my nephew, he came directly to the back to help me make chips and this was after 2pm going on to 3pm and my daughter who went came back and found Jacob in the car."

“She carried him and ran to the back where my husband and I were at. We then took him to the hospital but it was too late, no treatment that they made that was able to bring him back to life,” she said. 

He was a good boy and always quiet, Mrs. Tasi added.

“We are still trying to forget what had happened, but I am thankful to God because we could feel the warm presence of his spirit in our midst.”

Meanwhile, Police Superintendent and Media Spokesperson, Auapa’au Logoitino Filipo, said no charges have been laid so far.

© Samoa Observer 2016

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