Tragic accident takes life of Mapusaga toddler
“It is with a heavy heart that I acknowledge the painful tragedy that occurred in our territory on the evening of Good Friday, that took the life of a 2-year-old girl from Mapusaga Fou,” said Commissioner of Public Safety, William Bill Haleck.
The toddler was run over by a vehicle driven by a relative, around 8p.m. At the same time, Haleck and the Traffic Division Commanding Officer, Lt Siaosi Aiono, issued a stern warning to every individual who has minor children in their home, to be cautious when reversing or driving into a garage or parking spot.
Lt Aiono told Samoa News the 32-year-old driver from Mapusaga Fou was the great uncle of the little girl that died.
The uncle to date has not been arrested and was issued several citations, including careless driving, and failure to adhere to responsibilities of a driver among them. Lt Aiono further stated that the complete police report has been forwarded to the Attorney General’s office with the recommendation to criminally charge the driver with negligent vehicle homicide.
He said that it’s the responsibility of the driver of any vehicle to check the mirrors prior to backing up — every time. He said that this incident could have been prevented had the driver done his duty and checked to see if there was someone walking or standing behind the car.
He told Samoa News the toddler died from severe brain damage.
According to Lt Aiono, the findings of the investigation indicated the vehicle was going slowly (about one mph) when it struck the girl whose back was facing the car. She fell, and the car went over her shoulder.
“The driver said he felt the vehicle going over something but he still backed up until the light shined on the girl, who was lying motionless. that’s when the driver saw the girl and called out to her mother who was in the house,” said the Traffic Commander.
He further explained the vehicle had no bumper and so it was the mount of the bumper that hit the girl, who then fell and hit her head, which caused damage to the brain, and that was the cause of death.
The Commander said the toddler’s mother was inside the house when the incident occurred and the family members had assumed the girl was watching TV with her grandfather; however she had walked outside the house.
Lt Aiono stated that whenever anyone fails to carry out their duties when operating a vehicle, that is when traffic accidents occur. “It’s very unfortunate that two tragic accidents have occurred within a month, and it tells us to be more cautious,” he said.
No alcohol was involved, Lt Aiono said, and the death of the toddler was just a terrible accident, as the driver didn't see the little girl behind the truck. However, he noted that had the driver done his duty, it would be a different story.
Commissioner Haleck said, “please, if you have children, please make sure you look out for your kids.”
Deputy Attorney General Mitzie Jessop confirmed the report is with their office and they will look into and take the appropriate action on this tragic accident.
Samoa News extends deepest sympathy to the grieving family.