Tongan river tragedy victim in US to be laid to rest tomorrow

Twenty-one-year-old Albert John Mapa who drowned at the Provo river in Utah has been remembered as ” “funny, friendly, and faithful” by his family and friends.

Mapa, also known as AJ, reportedly jumped off a pedestrian bridge into the water behind the dam.  Family and friends who were with him in the area told officials they could see Mapa “appeared to be in trouble,” a press release said.

Search and Rescue crews found his body more than three hours later.

The West Valley City resident recently returned from serving a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Tonga.

Soakai Faleao was one of Mapa’s missionary companions who was with him that day. He said it was supposed to be a fun day at the Provo River, according to a ABC4 exclusive report.

“We didn’t think anything like what happened was going to happen. We were laughing, we were joking, we were listening to songs, it was just a regular day,” said Faleao. “Everything went wrong so fast. Every time I close my eyes. I see that river and it scares me.”

“His friends told me that when he jumped, he said, ‘I love you, everyone!’ and I think that’s the message he wanted to leave them,” said Siteli Lotulelei, Mapa’s aunt.

“I broke down immediately when I heard the news. I cried. I probably cried the hardest I did ever in my life,” said Toso Fehoko, Mapa’s best friend.

His brother Peni Mapa reportedly said: “If people were singing, he would just jump in. But he would mess up on purpose to get everybody’s attention. He would start dancing, even when no one else is dancing so he could get a laugh out of people or get people to smile,” said his brother, Ben Mapa.

“He was always the life of the party. He brought the light to everybody and I feel like, that’s pretty much what he was known for,” said Fehoko. “He had a positive outlook on everything. He was always the life of the party. He brought the light to everybody and I feel like, that’s pretty much what he was known for around the community.”

An invitation for the public who wanted to  attend the memorial services for AJ Mapa, was shared on Facebook.  

It said the nofo’aki putu was held on Thursday, August 1 before his final prayer services on Saturday, August 3 at 8am-1pm at Volta Chapel, 4586 Woodbury Cir, West Valley City, UT 84120.

Bishop services- 1:30pm-2:30pm before the burial services at 3pm at Valley View Memorial. 

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