Rescue operation unsuccessful: Rugby professional dies after jumping into river

Rescue operation unsuccessful
Rugby pro dies after jumping into river

Drama in France: Rugby pro Kelly Meafua jumps from a bridge 22 meters into a river the night after a celebration after his club’s victory. A teammate tries to save the Samoan, but ends up in the hospital himself. Meafua’s body is recovered in the morning.

Mourning for Kelly Meafua: The Samoan rugby professional has been found dead after jumping from a bridge into the River Tarn in Montauban in southern France. This was announced by his club, the French second division club US Montauban. The 31-year-old, who had played for the island nation’s 7-man team, was believed to have had an accident during a celebration on Friday evening.

“Everyone at USM is absolutely shocked, Kelly was so popular. We not only lost a player, but also a friend and brother,” Montauban said in a statement. Meafua had celebrated with the team after the last home game of the season before jumping into the tarn from 22 meters.

Teammate attempts rescue

According to the French newspaper “La Depeche”, Meafua and Vaotoa came out of a nightclub and around 6.30 a.m. a passerby saw a man throwing himself from the Pont-Vieux into the Tarn. Teammate Christopher Vaotoa jumped into the water to save Meafua – but without success. Suffering from hypothermia, Vaotoa was rushed to a hospital by firefighters. He was released “this morning in good health”, according to the club.

“I saw a second person jump into the river and tried to come to his aid. I stopped the third man, who was heavily intoxicated, who wanted to do the same,” said the witness to the scene. The fire brigade was quickly mobilized. At 8.30am, Meafua’s body was found on the bank about 30 meters from the Pont-Vieux.

The Montauban Attorney’s Office has ordered an autopsy to determine the exact cause of Kelly Meafua’s death and samples to identify possible traces of alcohol and drugs. It is currently unknown why the Samoan player jumped from the Pont-Vieux. Meafua switched to US Montauban in 2020 after stations in Australia, among others.

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