2 fire captains killed in apparatus crash in American Samoa

American Samoa Fire Bureau Division Capt. Allen Velega and Capt. Mike Tipoti were killed and two other firefighters were injured

Duty Death: Allen L. Velega, Mike A. Tipoti - [Pago Pago, American Samoa]

End of Service: 04/30/2020


By Laura French

PAGO PAGO, American Samoa — Two American Samoan fire captains were killed and two other firefighters were injured in an apparatus crash on Thursday. 

American Samoa Fire Bureau Division Capt. Allen Velega and Capt. Mike Tipoti were killed when their fire truck hit a sharp curb while coming down a mountain road and crashed, according to Samoa News. The firefighters were returning to the station after responding to a fire at the time of the crash. 

Samoa News reports that the crash may have been caused by faulty brakes. 

Officials told Talanei that Velega was operating the apparatus and was possibly trying to stop it before the crash. 

Velega and Tipoti had both been members of the fire bureau's Second Fire Academy since 2012, according to Talanei, and Velega was known as one of the most experienced fire truck operators in the American Samoan fire division.

The American Samoa Department of Public Safety is investigating the crash. 

One of the firefighters injured in the crash, Firefighter Mathew Paopao, has reportedly been released from the hospital, according to Talanei. The family of the fourth firefighter, Firefighter Tinei Fonoigafo, is requesting that he be flown to New Zealand for further treatment. 

American Samoa is a Pacific island located between Hawaii and New Zealand and is an unincorporated territory of the United States. 

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