Afega family mourns baby boy who loved to dance
Twenty-month-old Vaitealagi Vaitealagi, who drowned on New Year's Eve near his oceanside Afega home, is being remembered by his family as a happy child who loved music, dancing and strolling through the village.
On New Year's Day, his grandfather, Vaitealagi Mae'a, 57, shared fond memories of his grandson who was left in his care each day while his mother was at work in Vaitele.
"I watched him every single day," said the senior Vaitealagi.
"On Thursday, he was out back there doing some things with his mother and we didn't realise that he was missing. His mother went looking for him but we could not find him."
The family home sits on the ocean in Afega.
It was around 5.30 or 6pm on Thursday evening they noticed the boy’s absence.
His uncle, Frankie Vaitealagi, 19, returned home from work and got into a canoe to set out in search of his nephew.
He discovered the child's body floating on the ocean close to home.
"We didn't know that he (Vaitealagi Jr.) went into the water,” the grieving grandfather recalls.
“But when my son [...] got off work, he went into the canoe and went out to search for him.
“He was found just a ways out there, floating on the after and my son brought his body back home.”
Vaitealagi Sr. recalls a well-behaved and happy boy who would only ever occasionally act up to get his mother’s attention.
“We really miss him,” he said.
“Every morning he would wake up around 6am and stand at the window there and call out to me that he wanted to come out the house."
Little Vaitealagi also had a cheeky streak when it came to dealing with his older siblings and cousins, from whom he would take toys, teasingly.
He was the youngest of four children born (two boys and two girls) to Faleupolu Vaitealagi, 28.
"In the evenings, he loved to take his strolls through the village with his mother,” Vaitealagi Sr. said.
“He would take a shower around 5:30 or 6 p.m. and as soon as that was done, he was ready to go for a walk and take a stroll with his mother.
“The boy loved to dance. As soon as he heard the music play, he would get up and dance. It could be music from a car passing by or from the stereo but whenever he heard the music, he would just dance. We loved him and we will never forget him."
Doctors have confirmed that the young boy died from drowning, he noted.
Funeral details are pending.