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Young man dies in fatal Pava’ia’i car accident

Police have arrested the driver of the blue Toyota 4runner involved in an accident early Saturday morning that led to the death of a man in his 20s.


Commander of the DPS Traffic Division, Muagututi’a Captain John Cendrowski confirmed this to be true, adding that alcohol was involved and the driver has been arrested for driving under the influence.


An investigation into the incident is ongoing.


Muagututi’a told Samoa News the vehicle — which was carrying six passengers, including the driver — was heading up the hill in Pava’ia’i (Aoloau Road) when the back part of the vehicle rammed into an electricity pole.


Bystanders told Samoa News the vehicle did not stop after the collision but instead, the SUV kept trying to go, however the vehicle was unable to move, as the tires were flat.


 A 911 call was made for assistance and according to a Pava’ia’i man, when EMS personnel arrived at the scene, attempts were made to revive the young man who had suffered severe injuries and was unconscious.


Muagututi’a declined to provide any further comments but made a public plea urging locals residents to take seriously the dangers of driving while intoxicated.


 “This is the result… yet members of the public take this very lightly. Any amount of alcohol in your system can impair your vision and judgment,” he said.


Muagututi’a said, “As I have said earlier, we have zero tolerance for drunk drivers, because when you operate a vehicle while intoxicated you place everyone on the main highway at risk. 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. All these can be avoided… Just by not driving drunk. Call a cab and be safe,” he said.


The Commander of the DPS Traffic Division did say it appears the young man who lost his life was not wearing a seatbelt. He strongly emphasized the importance of wearing seat belts when in a moving vehicle. He added that despite our speed limit being only 25-30 miles an hour, it’s a must to wear your seat belt. “It's been proven time and again, that seat belts save lives in car accidents,” he said.


Muagututi’a said that in the United States where the speed limit is up to 50 miles per hour, more than 15,000 lives are saved each year because drivers and passengers wear seat belts when they are involved accidents.


He told Samoa News that it’s the driver’s responsibility to make sure that the passengers in the vehicle are wearing their seat belts.


“Most of the time, when police pull a car over, the driver is wearing a seat belt and the passenger isn’t. Why? Everyone in a moving vehicle must wear seat belts, except those who ride in the bed of the truck.”


Muagututi’a explained to Samoa News that seat belts prevent occupants of the vehicle from serious injury in five ways. 


First, he said, during a car accident, seat belts keep the occupants inside the vehicle.


Second, seat belts restrain the strongest parts of the body. “Restraints are designed to contact your body at its strongest parts. For an older child and adult, these parts are the hips and shoulders, which is where the seat belt should be strapped.”


Third, he added, seat belts spread out any force from the collision. “Lap-and-shoulder belts spread the force of the crash over a wide area of the body. By putting less stress on any one area, they can help you avoid serious injury.” He said a shoulder strap also helps keep your head and upper body away from the dashboard, steering wheel, and other hard interior parts of the automobile, should you stop suddenly or be hit by another vehicle.


Fourth, seat belts help the body to slow down. ”A quick change in speed and seat belts help extend the time it takes for you to slow down in a crash,” he said.


Lastly, seat belts protect your brain and spinal cord. ”A seat belt is designed to protect these two critical areas. Head injuries may be hard to see immediately, but they can be deadly. Likewise, spinal cord injuries can have serious consequences.”


Currently, the DPS Office of Highway Safety actively campaigns through paid media advertisements about — among other things — the importance of wearing seat belts, the dangers of drunk driving, and the proper use of car seats.