Samoan worker charged after fatal N.Z. crash
Apia, SAMOA — 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.