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A mother's double tragedy

Margaret Wise
Friday, March 14, 2014

LAST Friday Asena Ravuiwasa and her family left Tavua for Suva to attend a 100 nights ceremony to mark the end of the mourning period for her late mother.

The 43-year-old nurse at Tavua Hospital was accompanied by her husband Sirilo, 42, sons Okusitino, 15, and Jiutasa, 13, and six-year-old daughter Veronika. She never made it to Kalabu where the traditional ritual was held.

Tragedy struck that night and dealt her an unfathomable blow. The vehicle they were travelling in veered off the road along the Kings Road between Balekinaga and Wailevu and ended up in the Wainibuka River.

Today, Mrs Ravuiwasa will be travelling to Nabukadra, Ra, to bury two of her loved ones. Drowned as a result of the incident were her former policeman husband Sirilo and son Jiutasa.

Faced with a double tragedy, Mrs Ravuiwasa shares her heartbreaking story with The Fiji Times. Her only hope is that it doesn't happen to anyone else.

"We left Tavua at about 8.30pm and the driver appeared tired," she related from a relative's home in Nabua, Suva.

"So my husband asked him to stop twice along the way. At Naibita he just had a drink of water and continued while at Waimicia he napped for about 15 minutes.

"The driver insisted on continuing our journey and we were travelling very slowly. One thing I remember is Sirilo telling him a story about one of our relatives. How that relative would stop driving, no matter where and what time of day, if he was tired.

"I only remember seeing the white lines on the other side of the road. I called out to the driver but there was no answer. Then we were off the road. Next thing I knew the car was filling up with water. The driver got out of the car and I never saw him again.

"It was dark and the current was strong. I told my older son to kick open the door on his side and I did the same, taking my daughter who was sitting on my lap with me.

"Then I heard my husband calling out in the dark, asking if I had the children. I told him that only Jiutasa was missing. That was the last I heard from my husband.

"I held on to my daughter and conversed with Okusitino throughout. He wanted to go back and help his father and brother. I told him not to fight the currents and tried to lift his spirit by talking to him.

"It was dark and the river was deep. We drifted down the river for about 2 hours. The current was really strong so I was getting really weak and tired.

"Then at one point we saw light. It is hard to believe but we were saved by two young boys, one in Class Eight and the other in Form 5 at Saga Settlement near Wailevu. They were out for some night fishing and called out to others who also came and helped us that night.

"They said they heard my daughter's voice piercing through the still of the night. Throughout the time we were drifting, Veronika never stopped calling out for help and calling out for her father and brother."

Mrs Ravuiwasa said she would miss her husband of 22 years - but she had also come to accept her fate as part of God's plan.

"My husband's body was found in the car together with Jiutasa's. He was a good husband and a good father. He had a heart condition but did what any good father would've done.

"Over the past few days we have sat as a family and tried to remember their last days. We take a lot of comfort from the fact that it was filed with laughter, both father and son were the kind who like to make people laugh and feel good and that's how they were in their final days, making everyone laugh."


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