The devastated family of a Perth teenager, a Guinean-born Liberian refugee who died in a cliff jumping tragedy at Bicton’s notorious Blackwall Reach, United Kingdom, says he was a kind, loving and bright young man who wanted to give back to his adopted country.
Curtin University student Luseni Traore, 18, is the second person in less than 12 months to die after jumping off the Blackwall Reach cliffs.
His friends who witnessed the emergency said Luseni was with a group of about 20 people, enjoying a sunny, fun-filled day on Friday before the start of exam week when just after 5pm he jumped into the Swan River from the cliffs — something he had done previously.
They don’t know exactly what went wrong, but they say Luseni surfaced and within seconds appeared to panic before going under.
Friends in the river desperately tried to save him while Water Police divers arrived within five minutes and dragged him onto the police boat, before Luseni was rushed by ambulance to Fiona Stanley Hospital.
Despite the best efforts, Luseni — a Guinea-born Liberian refugee who moved to Australia at the age of four — was pronounced dead at hospital.
A massive contingent of Luseni’s family and friends gathered at his mother’s Dianella home yesterday to pray and comfort each other.
His uncles Mamady Kande and Seyeh Dulleh paid tribute to Luseni who they described as a good Muslim, loving son and respectful member of the community.
“As you can imagine it is a shock for someone like him to lose his life,” Mr Kande said fighting tears. “It’s going to be tough for the community to recover from that.”
Mr Dulleh said Luseni, who graduated from Warwick Senior High School last year, was a talented teen who was studying civil engineering at Curtin University and had a promising future.
“He was dedicated to our community … his wish was to return the good that Australia did for the Liberian refugees by settling us in this country. Luseni was working very hard to ensure that the Australian community would not regret settling the Liberian community here,” he said. “We had a lot of hope for this child but God has his will.”
Luseni’s family is anxious to get his body back from the Coroner as soon as possible to ensure he has a “dignified” burial. They also wanted to thank the community for its support and the emergency services personnel who tried so hard to save Luseni, who last year graduated from Warwick Senior High School.
When asked if Luseni was a strong swimmer, Mr Dulleh said he had swimming lessons at school but the family was unsure of the exact circumstances surrounding his death at this stage.
Luseni’s close childhood friends said they would never forget their kind and down-to-earth “brother”.
“He was always there for us … always concerned about us,” his friend Losene Dulleh said. “He was more than a friend, he was family.”
Luseni’s day out with friends was meant to be a way to relax before the start of exam week, but it ended in tragedy.
As the mercury soared to 36C today, thrill-seekers continued to jump from the cliffs despite some of them knowing about the tragedy that had unfolded at the same spot less than 24 hours prior.
In January, Taiwanese tourist Eddie Chiang, 31, died after jumping off Blackwall Reach.
Royal Life Saving WA health promotion and research senior manager Lauren Nimmo said Blackwall Reach was a notorious drowning spot and warned people to be aware of the risks.
She said some foolish people were even cliff diving at night. The area is well sign-posted with “No Diving” warnings erected by the City of Melville.
Ms Nimmo said jumping from such a height can result in someone becoming winded, inhaling water and encountering serious trouble.
“Given the other circumstances around the two toddler drownings over the last three weeks in WA it really has been a tragic start to the summer period,” she said.
“The message is really clear: go out and enjoy yourself but make sure you’re aware of your abilities and that you’re participating safely.”
Social media tributes were posted from shocked friends yesterday, with Bashir Hassany writing: “You were one of the nicest souls I have ever known and anyone who knew you would agree. If you knew him for only a few minutes it was as if you knew him your whole life. He would be able to make everyone laugh, whatever the situation was. Luseni, I will miss you dearly.”
Another friend, Patrick Elroy Prince, posted “Luseni Traore … why did u have to go so quick.”
A GoFundMe page has been set up to help Luseni’s family with funeral costs. It has already raised nearly $10,000.