Foul play ruled out in firefighter death

An investigation into the death of a firefighter who was found dead under the Lelata Bridge in February has concluded that there was no foul play involved in his death.

Deputy Commissioner, Auapaau Logoitino Filipo said a pathologist report into the death of the deceased highlighted that the cause of death was from falling.

“That will be determined by the Coroner once it declares and confirms the cause of death,” said Auapaau. 

“But since the incident we have had no leads on his death.”

The firefighter was found dead under the Lelata Bridge on 17 February this year.

Police had made several public appeals for any information that could assist with their investigation. 

Police and the Fire and Emergency Services Authority were alerted around 8 am that morning about a deceased man’s body under the bridge. 

Staff from the fire authority paid tribute to their colleague that worked during the tsunami and the measles epidemic. 

 The firefighter’s body was amongst close to twenty bodies that were stored at the national hospital in Moto’otua for months including those more than a year ago awaiting autopsies. 

The Government made several requests to New Zealand and Australia at the time for assistance for forensic pathologists but were not responded to due to a 14 days quarantine requirement. 

It wasn’t until May this year that the Chinese Government responded to the call for help bringing in 8 Chinese forensic pathologists that arrived in April to examine the bodies. 

A Spokesperson for the Chinese Embassy in Apia, Zhang Muyue, said China was willing to help to provide support.

“The Chinese side fully understands the situation of Samoa in need of a forensic pathologist and is willing to provide support on the basis of further discussions and consultations,” Ms. Muyue said.

Samoa has previously relied upon assistance from overseas partners in Australia and New Zealand to address the absence of a locally-qualified professional.

Consecutive states of emergency caused by the 2019 measles epidemic and 2020 global coronavirus pandemic have recently hampered the Government’s ability to engage overseas professionals. 

During their stay the Chinese specialists completed 13 backlog bodies and three additional autopsies for recent cases as per request from the Government. 

The causes of deaths of those 16 bodies were determined by comprehensive post-mortem examinations and the Chinese forensic pathologist team handed over the expert opinions and evidence to the Office of Attorney General and Samoa Police for further judicial procedures. 



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