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Lauli'i accident: Bus driver has no valid license

Three passengers remain in hospital, one in ICU
reporters@samoanews.com

The driver of the aiga bus — carrying more than 20 passengers — that ran off the road into the ocean late Wednesday afternoon in Lauli’i made his initial appearance in the District Court Thursday.

It was revealed in court that 60 year old Opetaia Farani of Aoa did not have a valid commercial license, as it had expired. He was arrested by Lieutenant Mary Leiato after he failed to provide a driver’s license when police arrived at the scene.

Farani was issued three traffic citations following the accident, the cause of which is still under investigation.

The bus driver is facing a ‘reckless driving causing personal injuries’ charge (a Class A misdemeanor carrying a jail term of up to one year, and/or a fine of up to $1,000); driving without a valid commercial license and driving without a driver’s license (both subject to fines.) All three citations are misdemeanors.

According to the police, of the 22 victims of the bus accident, one man is in critical condition and is in the hospital’s Intensive Care Unit (ICU); one woman has been placed in the Surgical Ward, while a 14-year old boy has been admitted to the Pediatric Ward. Others were treated and released.

As previously reported, the bus driver did not sustain injuries from the accident.

Farani was released on his own recognizance Thursday morning, with conditions. District Court Judge John Ward ordered the defendant not to drive a commercial vehicle, or a private vehicle without a valid commercial or private driver’s license. 

Farani, who’s represented by Assistant Public Defender Michael White, is scheduled to appear in court again on February 2, 2012. Prosecuting for the government is Assistant Attorney General Camille Phillipe.



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