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Fatal traffic accident in Westfjords

18.01.2021 - 14:28
Mynd: Halla Ólafsdóttir / RÚV
A family travelling home to quarantine in Flateyri in the Westfjords from an international flight at Keflavík suffered a serious accident in Skötufjörður fjord on Saturday morning. A huge emergency response was mobilised when the car left the road and went into the water, and passers-by are credited for bravery that probably saved lives. Despite these efforts, the mother of the family has since passed away in hospital in Reykjavík.

The woman, Kamila Majewska, was in her twenties and leaves behind a husband and young child—both of whom remain in hospital in a serious but stable condition. No further details on their condition have been released at this time.

The cause of the accident is unconfirmed, but it is known that the family had returned from Poland on a late flight, had been tested for COVID-19 at the airport, and needed to quarantine for five days before a second test. The drive from Keflavík to Flateyri is around seven hours in summer conditions, and longer when roads are slippery, as they were this weekend. It is not clear whether tiredness was a factor in the accident, but the challenge of home quarantine for people living far from the airport was discussed at today’s COVID-19 press briefing. There is a list of approved hotels these people can spend their first night of quarantine at, vice police chief Rögnvaldur Ólafsson said, but many people remain unaware of it.

The major incident response room in Reykjavík was activated for the incident, two coastguard helicopters set off for Skötufjörður, and a large consignment of Westfjords search & rescue volunteers, police, ambulances, and fire crews also attended the scene. Personnel were ordered to quarantine pending COVID-19 test results, which have thankfully all come back negative. Around 50 people took part in the operation.

The rescue operation was so big, according to Rögnvaldur, because of the remoteness of the location and the difficulty of reaching the vehicle in the sea. It was a four-person group of passers-by that alerted the emergency services to the accident and managed to get all three family members out of the submerged car—probably saving lives—before first responders arrived on the scene. Their 112 call was delayed due to poor phone reception in the area which meant it was necessary to drive on until reception was available.

The video above is in Icelandic only, but shows conditions at the scene and the scale of the emergency response.

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