A lifeguard at a resort in Lefaga has died while trying to save a tourist from drowning.
The death at the Return to Paradise Resort was confirmed by the Ministry of Police yesterday.
The resort’s Assistant Manager, Mel Toailoa, said he is still trying to come to terms with the death of his staff member.
“It is a very sad time for the Resort family, his extended family and dear wife Sarah as well as the tourist – we still cannot believe he has left us."
“The whole Return to Paradise family is grieving today at the loss of the amazing porter, driver and Zumba leader Talalelei Vou, who lost his life on Sunday 7th October while helping to save a guest,” stated a media release from the resort.
Toailoa said the hotel guest found himself caught in an unusually strong rip, which appeared in the channel at the left end of the resort. There is a warning sign and notifications to not to enter this channel.
“Talalelei along with his manager Mika, were the first respondents to the incident, managing to extend a lifebuoy that ultimately saved the guest’s life. Unfortunately, Talalelei was picked up by a wave and we lost sight of him for a short time, and despite everyone’s best efforts – we were unable to revive Tala.”
Talalelei, whose name means “Good News” according to Toailoa, was a trained lifeguard and died doing what he loved – taking care of people in the resort.
“As the Bible says, greater love has no man than this – that he lays down his life for a friend. Our Resort is one big family, so the grief and loss are an unspeakable sorrow for everyone."
“Naturally, the guest who was saved, and many others, are feeling this very deeply, but no-one must feel any guilt for what happened. We will continue to review every aspect of health and safety, but this was a genuine accident."
“Talalelei believed that his life was in God’s hands and for some reason we do not understand, God has promoted him early,” said Toailoa.
The resort managers and staff have spent time with the family of the deceased and they will do everything to assist them in their time of mourning, added the media statement.
“The guest and his family had asked to meet Tala’s family to show their appreciation for his sacrifice, and this happened on Sunday night in Tala’s family home. This was a very emotional time, yet beautiful in the love and healing that was shown by the family towards the guests. The son they have lost is a very special man to all of us.”
Talalelei is married to Sarah and they were scheduled to travel to New Zealand in a fortnight.
“The management and staff held a special farewell service today (yesterday) at their chapel, to thank God for his gift, Talalelei, to his Return to Paradise Resort family, and to pay homage to a wonderful brother and dear friend."
“We were honoured by the presence of our wonderful guests who grieved with us and helped begin the healing process for all of us."
“In passing may we say: Strong people standup for themselves; stronger people standup for others; Fly high Tala,” said Toailoa in the statement.