Tragic Whirlpool Incident at Russian River: What Really Happened?

A tragic incident occurred at the Russian River, California, when 28-year-old Santa Rosa Rugby Club member Nasoni (Tony) Tuitoga was pulled down by a whirlpool during a swim on Wednesday and did not resurface.

In an interview with KTVU FOX 2, San Francisco, journalist Crystal Bailey spoke with Tuitoga’s friend Joe Quai Hoi, who recounted the harrowing experience. “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. He also noted that search and rescue teams found Tuitoga’s body 30-40 feet away from the point of disappearance.

After two days of extensive searching, Tuitoga’s body was discovered last Friday afternoon. His mother, Lavenia Cavora Tuinaceva Tuitoga, expressed her heartbreak and remembered how his friends tried valiantly to save her youngest son but were unable to. “I’m going to miss him so much, his smile,” she said, adding, “I just keep on asking God to give us peace in our hearts.”

Tuitoga, originally from Naivicula, Wainibuka, Tailevu with maternal ties to Matuku, Lau, was a cherished member of the Santa Rosa Rugby Club. The club paid tribute to him with a heartfelt social media post that read, “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 survived by his parents, Lavenia and Nasoni Tuitoga, and his two older brothers, Mikaele and Alipate Tuitoga.

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