Tragic Incident at Russian River Leaves Community in Grief

Santa Rosa Rugby Club member Nasoni (Tony) Tuitoga, 28, went for a swim in the Russian River, California on Wednesday, but the day took a tragic turn when he was sucked down by a whirlpool and never returned to shore.

In an interview with KTVU FOX 2, San Francisco, journalist Crystal Bailey spoke with Tuitoga’s friend Joe Quai Hoi, who said he was present when Tuitoga jumped into the water.

“The crazy part was we were like yelling out at him when we saw him swimming around in circles like, ‘Hey, you OK?’ and he never really said anything back until he disappeared under the water,” recalled Quai Hoi.

“They (search and rescue) said when they found him, he was like 30–40 feet away from where everyone said he disappeared.”

Tuitoga’s body was found last Friday afternoon after crews searched for two days.

Tuitoga’s mother, Lavenia Cavora Tuinaceva Tuitoga, said his friends tried to save her youngest son, but they were unable to.

“I’m going to miss him so much, his smile,” she said. “I just keep on asking God to give us peace in our hearts.”

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

Tuitoga is the youngest son of Lavenia and Nasoni Tuitoga. His two older brothers are Mikaele and Alipate Tuitoga.

Popular Categories

Latest News

Search the website