Community

Victim from Beaverdam Reservoir incident identified

A video exists of the victim apparently paddle boarding shortly before she disappeared.

The victim in the apparent drowning at the Beaverdam Reservoir off Belmont Ridge Road has been identified via posts on social media. She was Leilani Laufiso Funaki, 38, a recent PhD student at George Mason University and an employee of Capital One in McLean.

Image: LinkedIn

In a startling new detail, her husband — Katoa Ki He Hau — did a Facebook Live from the shoreline of the reservoir as his wife set out on her fateful excursion. Out of sensitivity to her family, The Burn is not sharing the video at this time, only screen captures. But in the video, Funaki can be seen positioning the paddle board at the edge of the water and then climbing on board. She asks her husband for a push, which he obliges. She is then seen moving away from shore.

Image: Facebook Live
Image: Facebook Live

The camera pans all over the place, but at times, you can glimpse Funaki quite a way out on the water. She appears to be drifting towards the north end of the reservoir. At some point in the 26-minute long video, she is no longer readily visible.

Image: Facebook Live

The time of the Facebook Live was 5:48 p.m. Katoa Ki He Hau reportedly called authorities sometime shortly after 7 p.m. That call set off a three-day search that involved boats, search dogs, a drone, a helicopter and sonar. A body believed to be that of Funaki was pulled from the waters Sunday morning.

According to LinkedIn, Funaki worked as a Design & Delivery Team Lead for Capital One. The site also says she had earned or was earning a Doctor of Philosophy from GMU. According to social media, her husband is a member of the local Tongan community and in the Facebook Live video at the reservoir as well as elsewhere on social media, Katoa Ki He Hau speaks and writes in what appears to be Tongan.

The local Tongan community in the greater Washington D.C. area is planning a memorial service for Funaki for this Tuesday in Chantilly. An autopsy is scheduled for this week. Our condolences to family and friends of the victim.

(Image at top via Facebook)

4 Comments
  1. Shaunda R. Vanzego 2 years ago
    Reply

    Mrs. Funaki was one of my sister’s colleagues and she learned of the incident a few days prior to this dreadful conclusion. Sending sincere prayers and condolences to her family and friends. May she rest in eternal peace…😪🙏🏽😇

  2. Shaunda R. Vanzego 2 years ago
    Reply

    Mrs. Funaki was one of my sister’s colleagues and she learned of the incident a few days prior to this dreadful conclusion. Sending sincere prayers and condolences to her family and friends. May she rest in eternal peace…????

  3. Andrew 2 years ago
    Reply

    This is truly a tragedy. This should also be a learning experience for EVERY person that uses a SUP, kayak or canoe that they should WEAR a personal floatation device (PFD) / life jacket anytime they are doing activity on the water. It should be worn and buckled properly.

    I know how to swim. I learned how to swim in the ocean, I swam on a swim team, but I NEVER EVER not wear my life jacket when I kayak. I wear it on flat water or when on the the river. Wearing a PFD increases your chance of surviving.

    If you are not wearing a life jacket then it is extremely difficult to help someone if they get in trouble. A rescuer can grab you by the PFD and get you to safety. Wet skin is tough to hold onto.

    I wish the laws about wearing PFD would change. Not that laws would help, people would ignore it.

    In 2019 ~79% of people who were using a SUP, kayak or canoe who drowned were not wearing a PFD.
    https://uscgboating.org/library/accident-statistics/Recreational-Boating-Statistics-2019.pdf

  4. Andrew 2 years ago
    Reply

    This is truly a tragedy. This should also be a learning experience for EVERY person that uses a SUP, kayak or canoe that they should WEAR a personal floatation device (PFD) / life jacket anytime they are doing activity on the water. It should be worn and buckled properly.

    I know how to swim. I learned how to swim in the ocean, I swam on a swim team, but I NEVER EVER not wear my life jacket when I kayak. I wear it on flat water or when on the the river. Wearing a PFD increases your chance of surviving.

    If you are not wearing a life jacket then it is extremely difficult to help someone if they get in trouble. A rescuer can grab you by the PFD and get you to safety. Wet skin is tough to hold onto.

    I wish the laws about wearing PFD would change. Not that laws would help, people would ignore it.

    In 2019 ~79% of people who were using a SUP, kayak or canoe who drowned were not wearing a PFD.
    https://uscgboating.org/library/accident-statistics/Recreational-Boating-Statistics-2019.pdf

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.