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11 November 2022

Teenager confirmed wearing ‘approved helmet’ in crash

Wednesday 27 March 2024 | Written by CI News Staff | Published in Local, National

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Teenager confirmed wearing  ‘approved helmet’ in crash
A 16-year-old female motorcyclist sustained a facial injury after colliding with a van on the main road at Nikao, on Friday morning. POLICE MEDIA/24032209

Cook Islands Police have confirmed the teenager injured in a crash last Friday was wearing a ‘fully approved’ German helmet.

The confirmation comes after a person, who said she was the first on the crash scene in Nikao, challenged a Cook Islands News article quoting another witness claiming the teenager was wearing a “fake German hat”.

Temu Okotai, who arrived at the scene a few minutes after the accident in which a 16-year-old female motorcyclist sustained a facial injury, on Friday told this newspaper that he noted that she was wearing a “fake German hat”.

However, Chrissy Piakura, who said she was driving right behind the victim with her daughter and witnessed the whole accident, said Okotai’s statement that she was wearing a “fake German hat” was not true.

“She had a proper helmet on and it was light pink/purple which covered her whole head, that helmet I believe without a shadow of a doubt saved her life,” Piakura said.

She asked Okotai and the newspaper to make a formal apology for this statement, “which points the finger at this young girl and her family for letting her wear a fake German helmet which is a straight up lie!”.

Police spokesperson Trevor Pitt on Monday confirmed the helmet worn by the victim “to be German and a fully approved safety helmet”.

Responding to Piakura’s statement, Okotai said when he arrived at the accident scene from the Arorangi side, a Raro bus was in front of him and there were a few people at the scene standing around the person lying on the road.

“I could see people were careful with her probably waiting for medical people to arrive. I immediately rang the hospital and I was told a call had just come through on the accident,” he said.

“Honestly, looking at the person from my vehicle it looked as if the person was wearing one of those helmets, as she was lying on the road I could not tell if the person was a boy or girl but the person had Tereora College uniform on and it made me really worry about people wearing these fake helmet and the risk inherent in this practice.”

As more vehicles arrived on the scene and people already gathered but could not do much until the ambulance arrived, Okotai said he drove around the bus and headed to his office.

“If I made a mistake in identifying what helmet the person was wearing and the family of the girl is unhappy about it I unreservedly apologise. I am sure we are all happy, the girl did not suffer serious injury from this accident. Did the proper helmet she was wearing helped? I hope so,” Okotai said.

“However, I do not apologise highlighting a problem our police have been neglecting for a long time, which is, in allowing unsafe fake ‘German hats’ as crash helmets on our roads.

“It is also a fact that many of our people and especially our young people wear these hats as crash helmets. We need to get these fake helmets off the road! It’s illegal and dangerous!”

Police spokesperson Pitt on Friday clarified that there is an approved German-style helmet available, but it must have the official safety certification stamp.

“The fakes ones won’t have that and it would be a whole scale exercise to check every single one,” he said.

In response, Okotai said the Police department’s response to the problem of fake German hats worn as crash helmets was pathetic and inexcusable.

“To admit that there are too many of these fake helmets being used on the island and is beyond the ability of the police to sort out begs several questions,” he said.

“Aren’t these fake helmets illegal? When this problem started to appear on Rarotonga roads what did the police do to stop this from getting out of hand?

“How difficult is this problem if police start advertising now that they are illegal and dangerous, and those continuing to use them will be prosecuted or fined?  

“If as the police say, the legal ones have a safety stamp or sticker, how difficult is it to catch those persisting to use them, at road checks and anywhere on public roads, and find these persons?”

Editor’s note: Cook Islands News sincerely apologises to the victim and her family for the inaccurate report stating she was wearing a “fake German hat”.

Comments

Miria Reu on 27/03/2024

Evidence before random witness hearsay.