Inflight death, Savai’i tragedies and mourning at Luatuanu’u

MK
By Mata'afa Keni Lesa, 05 January 2019

This much is undeniable. The festive season has been a bit of a mixed bag in terms of stories of joy and sadness. 

While there has been a lot to celebrate, the past couple of weeks have also been marred by some extremely tragic occurrences. Events that should make us appreciate the gift of life, and how we are today able to share it with others we love. 

Some people will give anything to have that with people they have lost. So as we pause today for the first Sunday of 2019, we want to say that our thoughts are with all the families affected by these tragic developments. Our prayer is that the spirit of the living God will comfort them during these very difficult times.

It started with the sad death of a young passenger during a Samoa Airways flight from Auckland to Faleolo on Boxing Day last week. The intimate details of what exactly happened, we don’t quite know. But from what the Airline has told us, the flight crew tried in vain to help the passenger, who was on his way to Samoa for a holiday, when he became sick inflight.

 “The passenger’s condition deteriorated and cardiopulmonary resuscitation was performed by the Crew who also used the (onboard) defibrillator,” the Airline said in a statement. “Unfortunately there were no medical personnel onboard the flight. Prior to touchdown, the emergency was relayed to authorities on the ground, together with a request for priority-landing and medical services.”

The Police, we’ve been told, are investigating the matter. The questions they will be asking will be pretty straightforward. One of them would be whether the Airline did enough to help save the boy’s life? Could his life have been spared and was there anything humanly possible that could have been done to do this?

So far, the Airline has also told us that after the death, family members have revealed the deceased had a medical history, which was not disclosed to the Airline prior to the flight.

In hindsight, deaths on flights are not new. They don’t just happen in Samoa, they happen everywhere in the world and flight crews live to tell of countless deaths inflight for one reason or another. 

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What happened on Samoa Airways is heartbreaking. We feel for the family, and how what was meant to be one of the trips of a lifetime to spend the holidays in Samoa, has become such a tragedy. From a public relations perspective though, in as far as Samoa Airways is concerned, the Airline has been upfront and quite sensitive in handling the matter. They have not attempted to hide anything, which is a good sign. And they have done more.

 Said the Airline: “Samoa Airways offers its heartfelt condolences to the grieving family and will be assisting with the transfer of the deceased back to New Zealand once the family’s plans have been finalised.”

Back home, more stories of untold tragedies have emerged at the beginning of the new year. It involved two deaths on the big island of Savai’i. The first death occurred when a fight broke out during an alcohol drinking session, where the deceased was punched and fell, with his head landing on the concrete. He did not make it to the hospital. 

The second incident occurred on New Year’s eve, when a man in his 20s was stabbed on the neck at Sapapali’i, which was also the outcome of an alcohol drinking session.

As if those deaths are not tragic enough, out there at Luatuanu’u, families and the villagers are in a state of mourning. It followed another tragic development, where a young man has died and the families of another are keeping vigil, hoping to find the body of another man that has been missing since Thursday, alive.

These are obviously very difficult times. We don’t envy families and close relatives of everyone involved in these tragedies.

Our only prayer this Sunday is for peace and comfort as they try to deal with the loss of loved ones. It’s never easy and it’s not the ideal way to start the new year.

But if anything, it’s another reminder about the importance of appreciating the gift of life and doing everything we can to maintain and protect it. 

For we never know what’s lurking around the corner.

Have a safe Sunday Samoa, God bless!

MK
By Mata'afa Keni Lesa, 05 January 2019

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