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Young child dies after being hit by vehicle


Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — On February 19, 2024, an unknown caller contacted the Tafuna Police Substation (TPS) requesting assistance regarding a vehicle that had struck a minor in the village of Pava’ia’i.

The driver of the vehicle was charged with Count 1: Homicide by Vehicle — a class D felony punishable by imprisonment of not more than 5 years, a fine of not more than $5,000, or both.

The defendant’s bail was set at $5,000.

(Samoa News has withheld the names of those involved to protect the identity of the minor involved in this case.)

According to the affidavit, on February 19, around 6:01 pm, an unknown caller contacted TPS requesting urgent medical assistance — the caller stated that a vehicle had struck a minor in front of the TMJ Mart and the injured minor had been transported, using a private vehicle, which was to meet up with an EMS unit.

Police officers immediately responded to the LBJ hospital to investigate the case.

According to the affidavit, the victim was pronounced DOA by the attending physician at 6:25 pm, at the LBJ Medical Center emergency room (ER).

The alleged cause of death was from a head injury, which according to the attending doctor’s medical examination, was caused from the impact against the front portion of the vehicle.

Photos of the victim’s injuries were taken by the police officers.

The affidavit further states that the father of the victim was interviewed at the LBJ morgue on the same day at around 7:50 pm.

The father said he was doing laundry with his two children at the TMJ laundromat. As they waited for their laundry, he and the victim crossed the highway to sit in front of a house that used to be a restaurant. However, suddenly, the victim ran across the road towards the laundromat. He then saw “a black pick-up truck speeding upwards, and did not honk or hesitate to slow down.

“He tried running to save his son, but sadly the truck hit him.

“The driver exited the truck while her husband remained seated inside.”

According to the affidavit, the driver of the truck tried to render aid and assistance to the victim.

The driver was identified as a 39-year-old female from the village of Mapusaga Fou. She was advised and taken to the Central Station for further questioning.

Upon arrival at the Central Station, the driver was Mirandized. She waived her rights and made a statement.

According to the driver, she went driving with her husband and children to the village of Leone. While heading back home to Mapusaga Fou approaching the TMJ store in Pava’ia’i, she gave way to a white truck reversing from the store.

“As she accelerated, suddenly a 4-year-old boy ran in front of the truck and she only saw his head.

“At the time, her husband shouted “AUOI”, but it was too late to apply the brakes.

“The driver stated that she hit the victim, stopped and exited the truck to render aid; but his father managed to carry him to the roadside.”

The driver said she told the parent of the victim that she had not seen the child running towards the front of the truck.

There were two male individuals who assisted, utilizing their vehicle to rush the victim to the hospital.

The affidavit states the driver of the black truck contacted 911 for an ambulance to meet them on the way, but this did not happen.

According to her, they had to stop in front of the mini markets in Maleimi to apply CPR to the victim and then continued to rush to the LBJ Medical Center, with “still no contact with the ambulance”.

The driver voluntarily rendered a written statement upon completion of the interrogation and was released home on the same date at about 8:55 pm.

A follow up investigation was conducted and video footage from the TMJ store/laundromat was obtained.

“The footage revealed that the black F-150 driven by … failed to give way to another vehicle as she stated.

“The footage clearly appeared that … (her) truck was traveling straight without slowing or yielding to another automobile.”

The affidavit states that the video footage does not clearly show the time of impact of the victim when he crossed the highway.

The defendant is identified as a citizen of Samoa.