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Flag Day 2013 had more than its share of traffic accidents

Close to 20 accidents involving intoxicated drivers, hit and run incidents, and those where someone fell asleep at the wheel, running off the main road or into oncoming vehicles, occurred before, during and after Flag Day, said Ta’aloloioufaiva Captain John Cendrowski. “This Flag Day was far worse than last year’s,” he told Samoa News, referring to accidents on the main highway.


Cpt. Cendrowski pointed out last year’s Flag Day was very peaceful and wished he could say the same for the events of this year, noting this Flag Day holiday was “just different”. The Captain said there were three run offs the day before Flag Day, where all of the drivers fled the scene.


“There’s one explanation" he said. "They took off because they were under the influence of alcohol and didn't want to be arrested… so if they did not want to go to jail, why drive drunk in the first place? They not only put themselves at risk, but the innocent civilians and pedestrians as well It's an act of selfishness,” he said.


“Remember that drinking and driving don’t mix” he reiterated. Cpt. Cendrowski reminds members of the public that even with one drink, it can and it will impair your judgment putting not only yourself at risk, but everyone else in grave danger.


He further stated that on Flag Day there were five “hit and run” car accidents and several drivers ran off the road. Some of the drivers also fled the scene, he noted. There was one accident in the Eastern side of the island where the driver, a female, ran off the road and sustained injuries for which she is currently admitted to the surgical ward.


“She fell asleep at the wheel because she was tired" said Cpt. Cendrowski. "Again — if you have been working non-stop and did not rest, please refrain from getting behind the wheel. Forcing yourself will not help any situation, rather you are putting yourself at risk, and putting  others at risk as well.”


A Blue Toyota Tacoma that ran off the road in Leone was impounded by the police Tuesday night, because when the police arrived at the scene the driver had fled and to date, that person has not come forward.


“We are holding the car (which is severely damaged) at the police impound lot until the driver comes forward and owns up to his responsibility,” said Cpt. Cendrowski.


On Flag Day morning, Samoa News spotted a white Toyota Rav 4 parked near the main highway in Avau. Cpt. Cendrowski said in that accident, the driver had fallen asleep in the early hours of Wednesday morning. Samoa News visited the accident site and it appeared the vehicle ran off the main road and ran up the side of the mountain; there were tire marks on the mountainside. 


Yesterday morning in Pago Pago, a grey Cadillac ran off the road into a pit and the driver could not be located. Traffic officers are currently investigating this case and looking for the driver in this accident.


Capt. Cendrowski told Samoa News that following the accident in Pago Pago, there was another two-car accident in Utulei. “It never ends, drivers should be cautious and careful on the main highway, buckle up your seat belt, be alert at all times and please use an ear piece for your phone when driving. Do not text, or check your facebook page on your phone while driving." he said.


Police said a Mazda and Hyundai were involved in the Utulei accident, where one car ran into the back of the other car, and neither driver was intoxicated.


"We have zero tolerance for drunk drivers, because when you operate a vehicle while intoxicated you place everyone on the highway at risk," Cpt. Cendrowski once again._.


"Please — the plea from the police is very simple — don’t drink and drive… don’t take the risk of driving drunk, because you will get caught and you will be arrested. But the worst is getting into an accident where a fatality may occur.


“Beware, because we are out there… just don’t violate any laws, then you are good to go,” he said.


Capt. Cendrowski reminded 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 problems caused by an impaired driver.