Tragic Whirlpool Incident Claims Young Rugby Player’s Life

Nasoni (Tony) Tuitoga, a 28-year-old member of the Santa Rosa Rugby Club, tragically lost his life after being pulled underwater by a whirlpool while swimming in the Russian River, California, on Wednesday.

In an interview with KTVU FOX 2, Joe Quai Hoi, a friend of Tuitoga, recounted the distressing incident. “We were yelling out at him when we saw him swimming around in circles, asking if he was okay, but he never responded before disappearing under the water,” Quai Hoi said.

Search and rescue teams discovered Tuitoga’s body on Friday afternoon, approximately 30–40 feet from where he had gone under, following a two-day search effort.

Tuitoga’s mother, Lavenia Cavora Tuinaceva Tuitoga, expressed her sorrow and gratitude towards her son’s friends who attempted to rescue him. “I’m going to miss him so much, especially his smile. I keep asking God to give us peace in our hearts,” she said.

Originating from Naivicula, Wainibuka, Tailevu, with maternal roots in Matuku, Lau, Tuitoga was an integral member of the Santa Rosa Rugby Club. The club paid tribute to him on social media, 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.”

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

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