Father and son claimed by tragedy laid to rest

Prominent entertainer, Tufa Fatu, and his teenage son, Patrick, whose bodies were recovered from a ravine at Tiapapata, were laid to rest on Saturday.

The Founder and coordinator of the Cultural Wave Dance Group, Mr. Fatu from Vaisala, Savai'i and Tiapapata, is well known for the art of fire knife dancing, travelling and promoting Samoan music and traditional dancing to the world.

His son, Patrick, was the youngest member of the dance group. He was a student of Avele College.

Mr. Tufa’s wife and Patrick’s mother told the congregation that hours before the incident, her son had told her he loved her as he said goodbye before heading off with his father.

She says the hidden implication of that goodbye now haunts her. 

“And as I sat waiting for their bodies to be recovered, my only wish was that I could say ‘I love you’ one more time,” Mrs. Fatu said while holding back tears during her eulogy.

“The pain that struck my heart is the regret that is now eating me alive, why didn’t I say I love you to either one of them? And for that I am sorry. The pain is still unbearable and the loneliness I cannot take.”

To deliver her final farewells, Mrs. Fatu sang her husband’s favourite love song before acknowledging the love shown since the sudden passing of her son and husband.

Students and a dance crew flanked a moving procession of pallbearers carrying Mr. Tufa and Patrick to their final resting place with traditional drum beats and conch.

Two weeks ago, at 3.30 am Wednesday, the bodies of the two deceased were discovered after a 13-hour long rescue operation by the Fire and Emergency Services Authority and Samoa police Services.

F.E.S.A. were notified at around 2 pm Tuesday.

The father and son at Tiapapata fell into a ravine estimated to be between 300 to 500 meters deep.

At the time, Commissioner of Samoa’s Fire and Emergency Services Authority (F.E.S.A.), Lelevaga Faafouina Mupo, expressed his deepest sympathies to the family for their loss. 

He explained that the mission was extremely difficult.

“Our rescue team went to the scene to locate the father and son, the ravine is 400-500 meters deep and it did not have a clear road, it was too narrow going down,” he said.

“We also noticed signs of soil erosion, which led some of our members to sustain minor injuries not only from the eroding rocks but also from trees. The team wore full safety gears for the search operation."

Lelevaga added that one of the difficulties they encountered during the mission was moving the bodies of the deceased from the ravine to the surface ground.

“It was not an easy operation but by 3.30am on Wednesday the bodies of the deceased were recovered and brought to the hospital," he said.

“But most importantly we thank God for his protection upon all of us in carrying out the work we do because these types of operations can lead to unforeseen circumstances where you make it home or not.”

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