Man drowns at waterfall on Christmas Day

A 20-year-old man drowned at the Togitogiga waterfall on the afternoon of Christmas Day, the Police have confirmed.

It is believed that the deceased was on a day out swimming with his family when he dived into the pool at the foot of the waterfall and drowned.

Police Commissioner, Fuiavaili'ili Egon Keil, confirmed the drowning in an interview with the Samoa Observer on Saturday afternoon.

“It's very unfortunate, a 20-year-old young man drowned yesterday at Togitogiga Waterfalls. The waterfall was on high tide and it was very murky and he dove into the pool,” he told the Samoa Observer. 

“The family called and we went with F.E.S.A. (Fire and Emergency Services Authority). We recovered his body from underneath the pool.”

Fuiavailili said that preliminary investigations showed that there was no alcohol involved, though he warned the public to be cautious during this festive season, especially when out swimming.

“Not that I’ve been told, because this is a preliminary investigation and it hasn’t been completed yet,” he added. “We were told the deceased was there (at the waterfall) with his family and we were told there was no alcohol involved. 

“So we don’t have all the facts now but based on information that was given to me, is that there was no alcohol involved, maybe there was, maybe there wasn’t.

“I’m just very concerned because this thing has happened and any incidents like this happening  again. We’re warning the public of the dangers of swift moving water.”

Samoa is currently in its November 1 to April 30 cyclone season, which the Commissioner said increased the likelihood of flash floods in mountainous regions, which could compromise personal safety. 

“We’re still in the cyclone season now but it's still raining on the mountainous areas and there is a possibility of flash flooding that will catch you by surprise and bad things will happen.”

Therefore the Commissioner also appealed to the public to be cautious when out swimming, either at sea or rivers including pools, and to ensure no alcohol is involved.

“From the incident that happened at Togitogiga, all the indicators are telling us based on the information given, was that there was no alcohol involved but if it was then it’s not good,” he said.

The Togitogiga waterfall was closed on Saturday morning by the Ministry of National Resources and Environment (M.N.R.E.) with Fuiavailili confirming its closure.

“I know the gate is closed and it’s up to M.N.R.E. for them to decide whether the pool will be closed but we can recommend for it to be closed, but there also a lot more pools that are open out to the public.

“The recommendation is to just be very careful and swim together with families so they can look out for each other.”

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