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Thursday 18 April 2024 | Written by Melina Etches | Published in Local, National


60-year-old woman dies in first road fatality of 2024

Cook Islands recorded its first road fatality of the year after a 60-year-old woman died from crash-related injuries yesterday morning.

In a statement, Cook Islands Police confirmed that the woman died from a severe injury, sustained in a crash on the main road in Nikao.

Police were called to the scene at 7.24am by the airport, near the RSA (Returned Services Association) building.

“The woman had been struck from behind by the driver of a pickup truck, while driving towards town on her motorbike.”

Police believe the impact dislodged the woman’s helmet.

“Those first at the scene assisted with securing the victim and diverting the morning’s traffic,” the statement said.

“First responders included the Rescue Fire Service and Ambulance personnel. “

Yesterday, police began gathering witness statements.

Police spokesperson Trevor Pitt confirmed this was the country’s first road fatality.

Cook Islands, in particular Rarotonga, has seen a worrying trend in road fatalities in recent years. Last year, there were five deaths. The numbers were also high in previous years, with one in 2022, five in 2021, five in 2020, eight in 2019, and six in 2018.

Driver behaviour has been a major concern for Cook Islands Police following increasing number of road incidents in recent years.

In 2023, the annual total of motor vehicle crashes of 239 exceeded those reported for 2022, and the Covid-19 years of 2021 and 2020.

The highest annual figure of crashes on Rarotonga over recent years was 279 in 2018.

More than 180 people sustained crash related injuries in 2023 which included a smaller number categorised as serious.

While alcohol and speed accounted for nearly all road deaths in the recent  years, Police said the main cause of all other crashes on Rarotonga is carelessness.