Tragic Accident at Russian River Leaves Community in Mourning

A Santa Rosa Rugby Club member, Nasoni “Tony” Tuitoga, 28, tragically lost his life after being pulled under by a whirlpool in the Russian River, California on Wednesday. According to his friend Joe Quai Hoi, who spoke with KTVU FOX 2 journalist Crystal Bailey, Tuitoga was seen swimming in circles before disappearing underwater.

Quai Hoi recalled the terrifying moment when he and others tried to communicate with Tuitoga, only to see him vanish. “We were yelling at him, ‘Hey, you OK?’ but he never responded before he went under,” he said. The search and rescue team found Tuitoga’s body 30-40 feet from where he was last seen, after a two-day search.

Tuitoga’s mother, Lavenia Cavora Tuinaceva Tuitoga, expressed her heartbreak, mentioning that his friends attempted to save her youngest son but were unsuccessful. “I’m going to miss him so much, his smile,” she said. “I keep asking God to give us peace in our hearts.”

Tuitoga hailed from Naivicula, Wainibuka, Tailevu, with maternal links to Matuku, Lau. He was an active member of the Santa Rosa Rugby Club, which honored him in a social media post, stating, “It’s a sad day in our rugby community. We lost one of our players this week, Tony (Nasoni Tuitoga Jr). Our team won’t be the same without his energy. Our condolences and prayers go out to his family and loved ones.”

Nasoni Tuitoga is survived by his parents, Lavenia and Nasoni Tuitoga, and his two older brothers, Mikaele and Alipate Tuitoga.

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