Unlicensed bus driver jailed for manslaughter

By Deidre Tautua ,

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GOING TO JAIL: Faasaomoataeao Tausagi  (facing the camera) saying goodbye to his family, he was sentenced yesterday.

GOING TO JAIL: Faasaomoataeao Tausagi (facing the camera) saying goodbye to his family, he was sentenced yesterday. (Photo: Deidre Tautua)

The driver of the Queen Patsy bus, which crashed on Cross Island Road, resulting in the death of one of the passengers two days after, did not have a valid license when the accident happened.

Fa’asaomoataeao Tausagi was yesterday convicted and sentenced for charges of negligent driving causing injuries and manslaughter. He has been jailed for four years and three months and he has also been disqualified as a bus driver for eight years.

The sentence was delivered by Supreme Court Justice Mata Keli Tuatagaloa.

Fuifui Ioane appeared on behalf of the National Prosecution Office. Charlie Va’ai was the lawyer for the 37-year-old defendant from Falelatai and Fusi Safata.

The Court heard the bus was overloaded when it crashed. 

The deceased was sitting on the spare seat next to the driver. 

 “The accused tried to overtake a vehicle and saw another vehicle heading towards him which made him swirl on the other side causing the bus to roll over,” the summary of facts reads.

Tausagi has a history of fines for carrying overloads. Since 2002, he has been fined 22 times.

In Justice Tuatagaloa’s sentencing, she noted that Tausagi should not have been driving the bus.

 “Most of the passengers of the bus were students and from the ages of 14-50,” she said.

“While you were behind the wheel of the bus you didn’t have a license and if your license had expired you shouldn’t be driving that bus.

“If only you had done that, nothing like this would happen and no one would die from this.”

Justice Tuatagaloa said the driver’s actions were negligent and reckless.

ROAD TRAGEDY: What’s left of the Queen Patsy after the horrific accident.
ROAD TRAGEDY: What’s left of the Queen Patsy after the horrific accident.

“You should bear in mind that you are carrying so many lives in the buses,” she said.

“There are 34 lives that you are carrying with you therefore you should not be taking it lightly.

“Maybe it’s because you think that buses are bigger hence why you go fast on the road (le mafaufau) but you don’t take into consideration the lives of the people that you are carrying.

“You also know that when you take the Tiavi route you are going downhill and if only you had control of the breaks while you were going downhill, I’m sure none of this would happen.”

The Court heard some factors in favour of Tausagi.

“The probation officer also mentioned that a ifoga was conducted however it was the owner of the bus company that conducted the ifoga to the family of the deceased but you were not there,” Justice Tuatagaloa noted.

“Why weren’t you present during the ifoga? When you should know that this is part of the Samoan culture when someone was affected from an incident and this would’ve showed the court that you are remorseful but you didn’t.

“It also states that from all the people that were injured in the incident you only apologized to two of the victims but the rest you did not.

“Why didn’t you go to apologise to these people? You are a Samoan. You should know that our people  get angry easily but they easily forgive too.

 “Another fact that I am looking at is that you were fined so many times since 2002 for overloading. You were fined twenty two times because of this.

“This tells me that you didn’t take this matter seriously because you have been fined so many times and yet you still do it and now it has cost a life because of your stubbornness.”

“If there is a message that I want to send to all the bus drivers, bus owners as well as the Land Transport Authority out there during my decision on this case.

That is to look at the safety of the passengers. L.T.A. needs to review the licensing of bus drivers and also the warrant of fitness.”

© Samoa Observer 2016

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