Distraught father shares hit-and-run anguish
A three-year-old boy died after being hit by a taxi in Savai'i over the weekend, one week before White Sunday - a loss from which his father says he may never recover.
Dennis Aliitaeao Fiumalosi was struck by a taxi at the village of Sato’alepai on Saturday afternoon while playing with his pet.
The driver sped away from the scene, according to eye witness reports.
A spokesman for the Savai'i Police confirmed that a man is facing charges, principally negligent driving causing death.
The Police are awaiting a report from the coroner.
The village and name of the alleged perpetrator have been suppressed by the Police.
In the meantime, Dennis' father, 26-year-old Aliitaeao Fiumalosi, says the loss of the family's only son in such tragic circumstance has been a waking nightmare.
“I’m still trying to cope with what happened,” he told the Samoa Observer.
“I saw with my own two eyes how my son’s life was taken away. I am still in shock and I still cannot believe that my son is no longer here."
Aliitaeo says he has been without sleep since the incident.
“People have been blaming me [and] said I was careless. But on the day the accident happened, we went to the shop to get something and, when we got home, my son said he wanted to go and play with his kitten," he recalls.
“He had a kitten at home and he loved caring for the kitten. So I told [him] to go play with his kitten. My son would always ask for my permission whenever he wants to go somewhere or do something.
“I walked towards our cooking house [umukuka] and, on my way there, Dennis went [past] me walking to get his kitten.
“I was just about to sit down when I looked up onto the road and saw what has been a nightmare for me. I became numb and as I ran towards my son, my heart and head felt like they were going to burst. It happened so fast."
Dennis says his mind has been plagued by unanswered questions and thoughts about the accident since the weekend.
“What kills me the most is the fact that I saw with my own eyes how the accident happened; like a blink of an eye. It all happened so fast and that is why, still up [until] now, I am still in shock and cannot believe what happened.
“What I don’t understand is why he went to the road when he would always ask me for assistance, or ask for permission whenever he wanted to do something. I didn’t know he had walked towards the road on the day the accident happened.
“Like I said, it all happened so fast. I was on my way to the umukuka [cooking house] and he walked passed me to go get his kitten, the next thing I know is, I looked back and saw my son flew from the road after being hit.”
The car was coming from Saleaula and, onlookers alleged, it was exceeding the posted speed limit.
“My son was hit just the side of the road. People said he was going too fast and it was already too fast when he had tried to stop.
“The taxi took off as people rushed to the scene. At that time, all I cared about was to get to son and to see how he was.”
The young father said he always had big dreams for his son.
“When we were blessed with Dennis, we were so happy and he made me a better person.
“He changed my life and he became my life. A lot has happened over the past years, but Dennis gave me hope and I was so sure he was going to be successful in the future.”
He recalls a son who was smart, funny and loved by all those around him, especially his family.
“He has a smart-mouth and he was very talkative. It was such a joy seeing him grow and he made not only me but our family so happy," he said.
“He was such a cheerful kid.”
Aliitaeao made the sacrifice of staying home to look after and raise their son while his partner, Moli, went to work.
“I wish there was something I could do to bring back Dennis. I wish we could turn back time so I could hold his hand when he walked passed me and asked him to come with me instead," he said.
However, Aliitaeao said he found comfort knowing that his son is now resting in the arms of the Lord.
“As a parent, I am broken into pieces; no parent deserve to go through losing their child, especially if they only have one.
“I may not understand now why this happened; only God knows. But I am comforted with the thought that my son is now free from the pain and sorrows of this sinful world.
“I’ve had my own share of bad experiences during my time on earth, and as I saw my son grow, I made a vow that I would do anything to raise my son so he can lead a better life and not end up doing the things I had done in the past.
“As selfish as I can be wanting my son back into my arms, I guess God needed him back more.
“I will cherish all the time I spent with my son. My heart is where Dennis will stay forever, and no one or nothing will ever replace or take that away from me.
“He may be out of sight, but I will forever hold our memories dear to my heart.”
Aliitaeao also used the opportunity to remind parents that there are no guarantees in life and that it was incumbent on them to share every moment with their children as if it was their last.
"Losing a child means you lose a part of you that can never be fixed," he said.
He said the family had been overwhelmed by condolence messages since his son's passing.
The deceased is the one and only son of Moli and Aliitaeao Fiumalosi, of Iva, Faletagaloa Safune and Sato’alepai in Savaii.
His final service will be held on Friday at Sato’alepai before he will be laid to rest at their home at Faletagaloa Safune.