The player, who had just participated in his team’s victory a few hours earlier against Narbonne, would have killed himself accidentally after a nightclub outing.
The world of rugby and Union sportive montalbanaise mourn Kelly Meafua. The Samoan third line of the Pro D2 club killed himself on the night of Friday to Saturday after jumping into the Tarn from a bridge, AFP learned from a source close to the club, confirming information from The Midi Dispatch.
This tragedy occurred just hours after the match won by his team and in which he had participated against Narbonne at the Sapiac stadium. The last game of the season at home for this former Samoan international in rugby 7.
The player was leaving a nightclub after the victory on Friday night
According to several testimonies, the 32-year-old player, indisputable holder of Montauban this season (25 matches and 8 tries scored), was leaving a nightclub in downtown Montauban before being seen throwing himself from the Pont-Vieux, 22 m high. One of his teammates, French prop Christopher Vaotoa, jumped into the water to rescue him. “I saw a second person jump into the river to try to help him. I retained the third, very alcoholic, who wanted to do the same”told a witness of the scene to La Dépêche du Midi, referring to the rescue attempt.
The teammate who wanted to save him in a state of hypothermia
Quickly rescued by firefighters, the latter was taken to hospital in a state of hypothermia before Meafua’s body was found in the early morning, about two hours later. The prosecutor of Montauban, Bruno Sauvage, favors the track of a “dramatic accident“. An autopsy will be carried out to find out the reason for the death and to establish if the player from the Pacific Islands, passed by the clubs of Narbonne and Béziers, was under the influence of alcohol or narcotics when he jumped from the bridge.
“Today we lost a player, a friend, a brother“Reacted his club in a press release. And to clarify:The 32-year-old fell in the Tarn in the early morning, and did not survive. One of his teammates tried to rescue him, without success. Transported to the hospital for hypothermia, he was released this morning in good health. All training is suspended until further notice.»
“The entire USM Sapiac club is shocked by this tragedy, and has a thought for his wife, his children, his teammates, and more generally, all club lovers. Kelly was a player much appreciated by all, his joie de vivre was infectious and radiant“, adds the club on its site.
Racing Club Narbonnais, his former club, also saluted the memory of the third row in a tweet. “The entire Racing Club Narbonnais sends its sincere condolences to the family and loved ones of Kelly Meafua, former club player. We have a big thought for his club as well as his teammates“, tweeted the Aude club.