Senior church member shares heartbreaking account of Te‘ekiu tragedy

A senior church member has shared the horrifying moment when he saw his colleague died at sea in Teʻekiu last week.

Sioseti Sunia Koluse who was in his 30s died while trying to save a 13-year-old boy after he got into difficulties while swimming at Fotua beach in Kalaʻau on Wednesday 14.

His body was shortly recovered and brought to shore by a boat.

According to a news release by the Mormon Church news website for the Pacific, Koluse was serving as a volunteer youth leader in Teʻekiu for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

It said the deceased has served in many lay positions in the Church including as bishop of a Vainī ward.

Bishop ‘Asaeli Fifita was reportedly emotional while sharing what he saw that day.

“At low tide, some of our group were fishing. All of a sudden the boys were yelling.  One of the young men that was swimming was caught in a whirlpool and immediately Brother Koluse jumped in to help him”, Bishop Fifita told the website.

He said: “Both Brother Koluse and the young man were being pulled down in the whirlpool. When the current brought them back up, I witnessed Brother Koluse lift the young man over his head and threw him out away from the whirlpool. In a split second, again the whirlpool pulled Brother Koluse, and this time, when the current brought him back up, I could see that there was a problem.”

Police said Another 36 year old man who was at the beach saw what happened and swam out to assist them.

Police in Nukunuku were called but when their boat arrived it was too late.

The deceased is survived by his wife Kalolaine and their daughter Melemanu Koluse.

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