Naqica misses ‘death ride’

Jone Naqica. Picture: REPEKA NASIKO

JONE Naqica says he still does not know how to feel about missing a “death ride”.

The father of three was ready to board a mini van in Nadi on Saturday when his phone buzzed, alerting him to a message from his wife.

The few seconds he spent to check his wife’s message cost him a seat on the mini van. He recalled the moments he shared a cigarette with another passenger, Atilai Ruitoka, who met his end an hour later along with five others when the mini van he was travelling in was involved in a horrific accident at Nabou, Nadroga.

“I keep recalling the seconds it took for me to look at my phone and miss the chance to board the van,” he said.

“We were both waiting for a van to go to Suva. I wanted to go and watch the Nadroga rugby game and he told me that he was going to watch his cousin play in the Deans. “We shared a smoke and I had been chatting with my wife.

“When her message came through, the mini van parked in front of us. I stopped to look at my message and he went to board the van.

“When I tried to get in after reading the message, one of the passengers in the front told me it was full so I had to go back out.”

He said moments later he was able to catch a ride in a 10-wheeler truck.

“When we reached Bavu, there was a long line and someone told us that there was an accident. I got off the truck and went to the accident site. “I saw the kid I had shared a smoke with and could not stop crying.

“That was supposed to be me. I saw a reflection of myself in that kid. “What I saw was nothing like I have ever seen before. It was one of the saddest things I had ever seen. “There were bodies on the road and people still inside the van. “I was helpless and a lot of people at first did not know what to do because there was so much going on. “Sa dua na ka valoloma (It was something very unfortunate.)”

He said he was still in shock about the whole situation.

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