Samoan worker charged after fatal N.Z. crash
A 35-year-old Samoan seasonal worker has been charged after a car crash that led to the death of one of his compatriots.
The man, whose name has not been released to the media, has been charged with "careless or inconsiderate vehicle operation causing death", the New Zealand Police confirmed to the Samoa Observer on Tuesday.
The charge followed the death of a 36-year-old Samoan seasonal worker, Vaetasi Mati, after a single car crash on a highway in the suburb of Mount Maunganui on Sunday.
The man was due to appear in the Tauranga District Court on Wednesday.
The New Zealand Police also expressed its condolences to the family and friends of the 36-year-old Samoan father whose life was taken away following the accident.
Mr. Vaetasi, who was from Satupa'itea in Savai'i, was residing in Tauranga, and had been away from his family and home for ten months.
Lemalu Nele Leilua, the Assistant Chief Executive Officer for Labour, Export and Employment, who oversees the Regional Seasonal Employer Scheme (R.S.E.), confirmed that the driver of the vehicle involved in the crash was the deceased’s team leader.
"There were seven of them in the car," Lemalu told the Samoa Observer.
"The deceased was seated on the passenger seat [...] the driver was the team leader."
Lemalu confirmed that they notified the family of Mr. Vaetasi about the crash.
Whether or not Mr. Vaetasi’s body will be repatriated to Samoa is, as yet, unknown, Lemalu said.
On Tuesday, Samoa's Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Dr. Sa'ilele Malielegaoi, expressed his condolences to the family of the deceased.
While Tuilaepa said what happened is tragic and sad not only for the family involved and for Samoa more generally, he said the accident is a lesson for all motorists.
He said he understood that the deceased was a hardworking man whose heart was set on the development of his family in Samoa.
"He had it in his heart to develop his family, which was why he wanted to extend his stay in New Zealand so he can earn enough money to bring home to his family," Tuilaepa told the media.
"This means that this man had contributed a lot to his family, especially with his daughter being so young."
Tuilaepa used the opportunity to send a message to all the motorists in Samoa and overseas.
"We never know what happens next, but we should learn from what happened to this young man, for all of those residing overseas, when you are on the road driving after work,” the Prime Minister said.
"It is important that we have enough rest before you drive the car, as you have been working for hours.
"It's a warning for all of us, if you know that you need to go somewhere far in the morning, but you are thinking of having a party at night, you should control your drinking and go to bed early."
On Monday, the broken-hearted wife of the deceased was still trying to come to terms with the sudden passing of her husband, and father to her daughter.
"Right now, I am not in the right mind to say anything to anyone," Lucy Vaetasi McCarthy told the Samoa Observer on Monday.
"I do not want to talk about it as I still can not accept or believe what happened."
Lucy said her world fell apart when she first found out about what happened.
"I first found out (about what happened) on Facebook," she said through tears.
"I have not seen his face or any evidence that he is gone, the people in New Zealand have not contacted me officially."
She recalled the last time she spoke to her husband was Sunday afternoon.