The pain of losing a child: no one deserves this

We cannot imagine the pain that the parents and the siblings of 18-year-old hit-and-run victim Tuuau Maletino must be feeling, two-months on from his tragic death with no one held accountable.

Fala Maletino and his wife Rosie of Vaitele and Fasito’o did their best to maintain their composure last Saturday, in between tears, while doing what must have been an emotionally challenging interview with the Samoa Observer

They recalled their son’s final hours before he was hit by an unidentified vehicle in the early hours of Wednesday 21 April 2021. His mother Rosie saw him leave home with his friend on Tuesday night and that was the last time she saw and talked to him.

When his father Fala rushed to the Tupua Tamasese Meaole National Hospital at Moto’otua in the early hours of that fateful Wednesday morning, following the ambulance that was rushing his stricken son to emergency, 18-years of Tuuau’s life must have flashed before his eyes.

And he recollected those key moments in his son’s life in the interview last Saturday.

“The memories that made him unforgettable started coming to mind, he was full of life, very passionate in school and also in sports but he was a first-year student at the National University of Samoa,” said Mr Maletino.

“As you can see, we are not a rich family, and so there was a time, when he told me that one day when he succeeds with his education, he would buy me a Ford Ranger, he had dreams but his time has been cut short.

“During his secondary school years, he was talented in sports and I would support him wholeheartedly. 

“I would go watch all his games while taking with me some money to buy apples or water.”

Mr and Mrs Maletino did not deserve this. In fact no parent in Samoa or anywhere deserves this: seeing the lives of the jewels in your crown snuffed out by recklessness and a callous act of crime.

And then we remind ourselves that Samoa is a Christian nation with its roots embedded in the fa’a-Samoa that is built on the pillars of alofa (love and commitment), tautua (service and responsibility) and fa’aaloalo (respect).

So how can a motorist rundown someone in the early hours of the morning and leave him or her for dead on the roadside without stopping to assist or at least call an emergency number?

That very question continues to haunt Mrs Maletino to this day as she and her husband continue to seek answers.

“We became curious who could have done this, and how did they feel when the incident occurred, were they scared or did they not care about him,” Mrs Maletino lamented. 

“I wondered why they did not call the police or the ambulance when the incident happened.”

We are shocked at the lack of empathy for a fellow human being and the fact that the perpetrator continues to evade authorities – 62 days after the tragedy that broke the hearts of a family and troubled law-abiding citizens.

So what is it going to be Samoa and how long before the Maletino family finds closure after two months of sleepless and tearful nights?

Don’t you think the Maletino family like any other deserve justice for what could have initially been an accident, but now has the hallmarks of a hideous crime due to the perpetrator’s continued silence?

Somewhere, out there, a man or a woman was behind the wheel that early April morning.

And his or her decision to delay surrendering to the Police could work against the accused, as the aggravating factors in court could lead to harsher penalties.

Therefore, we all have a responsibility to promote and uphold the rule of law and should take a look at video footage that the Police uploaded to their Facebook page on Monday night.

We appreciate the determination shown by the Police to persist with their investigations and the video footage of a mini-van not far from the scene of the incident could help progress the case.

It appears “justice delayed is justice denied” could become a reality for the Maletino family, but surely there are good men and good women out there, who can step up and do the right thing.

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