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Alleged drunk drivers land passengers in hospital

reporters@samoanews.com

“The two separate traffic accidents in one month could have been fatalities. Luckily, the passengers were only injured, some with minor injuries, some seriously injured… because the drivers [were] allegedly under the influence of alcohol and it’s very dangerous to operate a vehicle when intoxicated,” said Ta’aloloioufaiva Captain John Cendrowski, the Commanding Officer for the Traffic Division under the Department of Public Safety.

“I cannot sit back knowing that in one month two traffic accidents occurred — and as a result injured children, due to impaired drivers who were operating vehicles,” he said.

Captain Cendrowski is appealing to the public to heed the advice from the Public Safety officers: “Don’t Drink and Drive”. He explained that those who drive under the influence of alcohol present a potential danger to every motorist, passenger and pedestrian as well as to the driver.

He added that if you are going out with friends, have a designated driver — and he wants the public to be clear that coffee isn’t the cure. “It’s a myth that coffee can help you sober up," he stated. "Only time can do that — so stay put until you recover.”

Captain Cendrowski said that many people believe that after a few drinks, they're still safe to drive.

“However even one drink can impair your judgment and reaction time, putting not only yourself at risk, but everyone on the road in grave danger.

“The drunk driving accidents could have been entirely avoided if someone had just made the simple decision not to drive under the influence of alcohol." he said.

The traffic accidents the Traffic Commander was referring to were the government’s cases against Mapu Tolo and Aupa’au Fa’asi’i.

Both Tolo and Fa’asii’s cases are pending in the District Court on charges of DUI causing personal injury and reckless driving causing bodily injury.

TOLO

According to the government’s case, Tolo had three passengers in the vehicle, as he was heading to A’asu when the vehicle ran off the road in Mapusaga Fou.

Tolo and one passenger were treated and released, while another passenger was taken to the Intensive Care Unit and later transferred to the surgical ward.

The third passenger was also admitted into the Intensive Care Unit and was later moved to surgical ward.

Police said the two in surgical ward, a male and female, are recovering slowly at the moment.

FA’ASI’I

The government’s case against Fa’asi’i alleges that last week the defendant was “speeding, made a turn to avoid colliding with another vehicle, lost control and struck a nearby tree” in Nu’uuli.

The government alleges that there were three minors in the back of the pick-up truck with adult supervision, and they were ejected from the back of the pickup at the time of the incident.

Police officers claim the victims in this matter are the defendant’s children.

“All three passengers were injured as a result of this accident,” say court filings. Police allege that when they approached the defendant he admitted that he had drank three beers earlier.

According to the government’s case, the defendant failed all three field sobriety tests and was offered the option of a blood chemical test and he refused.

The three minors were taken to the hospital for treatment, two were released on the day in question while the third minor was kept overnight for medical observation, according to court filings.

The government alleges the three minors sustained lacerations, one on both knees; another one had a laceration on the scalp and the other had one on the face.

Captain Cendrowski reminds members of the public to report impaired drivers to the police by calling 911 or 633-1111.

He reminds everyone to “always buckle up, in every ride” regardless of your seating position in the vehicle, because it’s your best defense against an impaired driver.



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