Love lost in plane crash

Petero Vunidilo with a picture of him and his fiancee Kathleen Canavan. Picture: ELIKI NUKUTABU

A YOUNG Australian woman who died in a plane crash a day after leaving Fiji had immense love for the country and tried hard to prolong her stay.

Kathleen Canavan, 23, was a passenger in an ultra-light plane that plunged into a lake in Central Victoria, Australia, last Saturday.

The aircraft was being flown by Ms Canavan’s uncle, Dan Canavan, who was rescued by a passing fishing boat.

Ms Canavan had returned to her Melbourne home the day before the tragedy after spending a month-long holiday in Namosi and Navua.

A day before she flew out, she sought information on how she could find work in Fiji because “her heart was in Fiji”.

Text messages sighted by this newspaper to family friends in Navua a day before she flew out of the country showed she was desperate to find ways she could live in Fiji.

“I just want to be in Fiji,” she said in a text message as she shared her “wish” to extend her stay until July.

One of the reasons she wanted to remain in Fiji was because of her partner Petero Vunidilo.

She lamented how she was unsuccessful in trying to get her beloved a visa to travel with her to Australia.

A broken-hearted Mr Vunidilo said since their first meeting in 2017, “Kathleen has been flying in and out of the country”.

“She loved it here and it was love at first sight for the both of us,” he said.

The 24-year-old from Namosi said the last time he spoke to Kathleen was when he dropped her off at the Nadi International Airport.

“Before she left she cried over my shoulder, asking me to come with her but I couldn’t because my visa was not approved yet. I told her that everything was going to be OK, and that I would be granted my visa soon.

“She was deeply distressed by it but I couldn’t do anything because it was time for her leave. She was determined she would find a way for me to get a visa in the future.”

Mr Vunidilo said he was shocked when he heard of the accident.

“I couldn’t believe it.”

He described Kathleen as someone who was loving and cared for other people.

“We were so in love we planned on getting married next year.”

He said he would apply for an emergency visa to attend her funeral.

“I love her more than anything in this world. Right now I still won’t accept the fact that she has left me so soon,” he said.

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