A freak series of events led to a five-year-old girl dying after being struck by a pick-up truck last week in the village of Sagone, Savaii.
The tragedy occurred when the five-year-old and her mother were walking to a shop.
“The mother sent the child to the shop on the other side of the road while she (mother) waited,” Police Spokesperson, Su’a Muliaga Tiumalu told the media during a press conference last week.
The mother told the police that when her daughter went to the shop, a dog came up to her and tried to attack her.
Her daughter then ran onto the main road and that’s when the pick-up hit her.
She died instantly because of the severe head injuries.
The driver of the pick-up truck was a 44 year old male from the villages of Vaipu’a, Savaii and Sinamoga.
He is scheduled to appear in court on the 24th of this month on charges of negligent driving causing death.
According to Su’a, the incident occurred on Friday 13th January.
He said charges would not be brought against the mother for carelessness but may be brought against the owner of the dog.
“The mother did not intend for her daughter to be struck by a vehicle when she went to the shop,” said Su’a.
“The daughter was sent there to get something but the problem was, the dog attacked her, she was scared and then ran onto the road.
“There is a possibility that the owner of the dog will be charged as it states in the Canine Control Act 2013:
20. Dangerous canines may be destroyed:
(1) If a Court is satisfied that a canine (whether at large or not) is dangerous and not kept under proper control or owned by anyone, the Court may make an order directing the canine either to be kept by the owner under proper control or that it be destroyed.
(2) A person who fails to comply with an order made under this section commits an offence and is liable upon conviction to a fine not exceeding 25 penalty units, and to an additional fine not exceeding 2 penalty units for every day that the offence continues.
21. Owner commits offence for canine attacks, etc:
(1) An owner of a canine which rushes at, attacks or startles any person, or any horse, cattle or other animal on any highway or any public place so as to cause or threaten any injury or damage to property, commits an offence and upon conviction is liable to a fine not exceeding 10 penalty units.
(2) In any proceedings under subsection (1), the Court may in its absolute discretion make orders:
(a) that compensation be paid for any injury or damage caused to any person; and
(b) for the immediate destruction of any canine to which this section applies.
“So if it does confirm, then there is a possibility that the owner of the dog may be charged because that is one of the contributions to the five year old’s death. If the dog didn’t try to attack her, she wouldn’t have run on the road.
“But there are also obligations of the driver of the vehicle which was also speeding and not following the Motor Vehicle’s Act 1993.
“They have to go at a speed that they can be stop the vehicle for any unexpected accidents on the road.”