Diver who recovered body saluted as tributes flow for Laulea beach victim

The diver who had retrieved the body from Laulea beach waters yesterday had been hailed and recognised online.

Puli ki Pulotu Afu Jr

Veimau Toke had volunteered to dive and searched for Puli ki Puloti Jr Afu’s body in one of Tonga’s most dangerous water spots.

Not long after he had descended deep into the notorious underwater Toke found Afu’s body and brought it to surface.

He had been hailed as a hero with many saying he had saved taxpayers’ money which may have been spent if it had been left for the Police to conduct the search.

The online community has congratulated and rewarded Toke as a good Samaritan.

Some suggested that the government should formally recognise him.

Meanwhile,  family, friends and kāinga of Afu  have paid tribute to a “really caring man”.

Afu disappeared on Saturday morning and was found dead in the waters several hours later.

Reports claimed he went for a swim before he was reported missing.

Following the devastating news, Afu’s family took to Facebook and identified him as the Laulea victim.

A post read: “We would like to thank everyone for sharing social media posts, and members of the public and friends who have been out looking for Puli”.

“I have learnt a lot from you Puli Afu Junior. You were young but behaved as a matured adult. You were just a good behaving young man”, another wrote in Tongan.

“I will never forget these faces (sic), they treated us all the same growing up in the island. I used to follow my dad to all his rugby trainings and Puli was one of my dad’s best players. Love you heaps and goodbye. Say hi to dad for me oh I can already imagine the reunion”.

Veimau Toke

Laulea beach is one of the most dangerous places in Tonga to go swimming due to powerful rip currents and waves that are known to sweep people out to sea.

In 2018 Viliami Vaka’uta, 24, was presumed dead after he attempted to save her wife in the water.

‘Inoke Mapaleve Mo’unga, 32,  of Kolonga drowned at the beach after  visiting there with his wife and friends.

In 2012   Catholic priest, Father Mikaele Mateo , 37, died at Laulea Beach while helping to rescue his five young nephews who were swept out to open sea by the strong currents.

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