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Gov’t truck runs off Ofu-Olosega bridge, into the sea, driver killed

The bridge that connects Ofu and Olosega
Windows of truck allegedly did not open — except for small sliding rear window

Ofu-Olosega, MANU'A— An employee of the Port Administration Authority in Ofu, Manu’a has died after the office’s vehicle he was driving, ran off the Ofu-Olosega bridge and into the sea.

At yesterday’s cabinet meeting, Port Administration director Taimalelagi Dr. Claire Poumele expressed appreciation to Health director Motusa Tuileama Nua for chartering the Samoa Airways flight which transported the body of the Port employee to Tutuila.

Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga has called on Department of Public Works director Faleosina Voigt to make contact with the US Federal Highway Administration to review and assess the situation with the bridge, because this is the second tragic incident that has occurred on this bridge-road.

Lolo says it's important to get a full assessment on ways to make improvements for the safety of island residents.

The incident occurred on Tuesday afternoon and detectives of the DPS Criminal Investigation Division (CID) are investigating the matter.

Fellow employees, as well as families and the people of Ofu and Olosega, are shocked with what happened, most of them asking the same question: how this accident cost the life of a fellow employee.

The man was pronounced dead on arrival at the LBJ Hospital around 4p.m., Tuesday.

The deceased, 50, is from Sili, and worked for the Port Authority Office in Ofu for almost 30 years. He was the supervisor.

A witness from Ofu who wants to remain anonymous told Samoa News that the accident occurred when the deceased was returning to Ofu, after dropping off fellow employees to Olosega.

“The deceased man tried to reach the sliding window at the back of the pickup for a chance to exit the vehicle while the vehicle was still under the sea. Unfortunately, his body was too big to fit through the small sliding window. His body was found in the back seat of the vehicle,” the witness said. The vehicle involved in the incident was a double-cab pickup truck.

A fellow employee told Samoa News that the vehicle the deceased drove was sent to them from their main office in Tutuila, and the windows are stuck, they cannot open. Following the accident, the deceased man’s son had to dive down to break the windows in an effort to save his father’s life. Unfortunately, it was too late.

“People rushed to the scene to offer help, but it was too late to save his life. He was unconscious and was not responding when his body was brought to shore.”

This is the second accident on the Ofu-Olosega bridge this year. In April of this year, an employee of the Department of Marine and Wildlife Resources in Ofu was rushed to the Ofu Hospital after the ASG truck he was driving fell into the sea under the bridge at night.

Reports from Manu’a say the truck was driven off the bridge by the employee, and alcohol and speed caused the incident.

The employee was medivaced to LBJ the next morning for treatment.