Tragic morning relived in Court

By Joyetter Feagaimaali’i-Luamanu ,

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Court House in Mulinuu, Samoa.

Court House in Mulinuu, Samoa.

A tragic morning where a seven-year-old boy was killed during a hit and run incident was relived in Court last week.

It happened when Tuavi’i Lome was convicted of negligent driving causing death. This is in connection to the death of a young boy in Tiave’a in August 2017. 

The matter was before District Court Judge Alalatoa Rosella Papali’i following a bench trial. 

Judge Alalatoa in handing down her decision noted that on the morning of 1 August 2017, a young seven-year-old-boy, from the village of Tiave’a, got up early in the morning to get ready for the long trip to town where his father normally drops him off for school at Apia Primary. 

“Little did he know it would be the last day he prepares for school,” the ruling reads. 

 “At 7 am, their vehicle left their house. It stopped on the main road in front of their house to pick up a neighbour who needed a ride to town. 

 “The car was parked half facing the Apia or westerly direction on the grass and half on the left lane of the main road.

“Whilst waiting in the car for the neighbor, the young lad asked his dad for some money to get something from the shop next door across the road. That was done and the lad proceeded to cross the road. 

 “As he was crossing, the double cab Hilux driven by Tuiavii, also heading towards the Apia direction, hit him on the opposite lane as it was overtaking the parked vehicle of the young lad's father.

“After being hit, the lad's father and the neighbour saw his body rolling under the defendant’s car and being dragged a few meters away from the point of impact before it was eventually released.” 

Alalatoa noted it’s believed he died at the scene from severe head and other injuries. 

 “It was not disputed at the trial that the driver of the vehicle was the defendant and that as a result of being hit by the vehicle, it caused the death of this young lad. 

 “But what was disputed was whether the defendant negligently drove his car. 

 “The test for cases of this nature was weather the defendant took reasonable care to drive on the road and in a prudent manner. 

 “The defense had argued that there was no negligence as the defendant was not to blame given the young lad had crossed the road suddenly and the defendant could not avoid hitting him. 

 “Police, however says the speeding and other factors contributed to the negligence. 

 “Her honour ruled there was negligence in that the defendant failed to keep a proper look out of the road vicinity and its surrounding circumstance.

 “Not only that but there was evidence of speed and he also failed to swerve to avoid hitting the young lad.” 

Judge Alalatoa noted there was no evidence of any emergency actions taken to stem the impact of the incident such as swerving or immediately applying the breaks as evident in the lack of any skid marks. 

 “But the defendant continued driving a few meters and in the meantime the young lad's body was rolling and being dragged underneath the vehicle. 

“It was only dropped from the defendant's vehicle when it went back into the left lane. Even then the car still continued and only stopped at the access road to Tiavea Tai.” 

She found this compounded the negligence and acknowledged that each traffic offence is fact specific. 

Judge Alalatoa noted even accepting the defendant's version that the young lad had suddenly crossed the road just when the defendant's vehicle reached the same spot making it impossible not to hit him, it still does not completely exonerate the defendant. 

 “It would be a contributory factor which can be viewed as a factor mitigating the offence. 

 “However, she said this had a diminishing effect due to the fact that there were no emergency actions undertaken.  

 “Rather the defendant continued driving  and in the process dragging the lad's body along with the vehicle which in her view would have  aggravated the injuries sustained by the victim leading eventually to his death.” 

The Judge found the defendant guilty of the offence as charged and this matter is now adjourned until 19 April 2018 for sentencing. 

© Samoa Observer 2016

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