A woman visitor driving a moped down a straight stretch of the Edgartown-West Tisbury Road in West Tisbury on Sunday was killed after she reportedly lost control of the two-wheeled vehicle and struck a utility pole head-on.
Zelijka Matutinovic, 41, of New York city, and her passenger, Josko Silobrcic, 46, of Swampscott, were traveling west bound, up-Island around 2:30 p.m. when the moped veered off the road near Deep Bottom Pond and struck the utility pole. Both the driver and her passenger were wearing helmets, according to police.
Both were transported by ambulance to Martha's Vineyard Community Hospital, where Ms. Matutinovic was pronounced dead shortly after arrival. Mr. Silobcric was flown to an off-Island hospital early Sunday evening, according West Tisbury police chief Beth Toomey.
Ms. Toomey said a preliminary investigation indicates there were no other motor vehicles involved in the accident, and that the couple was traveling down a straight stretch of road. The accident was reported by a motorist traveling east bound along the Edgartown-West Tisbury Road, who contacted police by cellular phone after seeing the moped leave the road in the corner of his rear view mirror.
"The investigation is ongoing, but at this point there are no indications as to why they lost control of the moped," Ms. Toomey said.
The West Tisbury Police are looking for anyone who might have seen the couple prior to the accident and stopped at the scene.
Chief Toomey declined to identify the business where the couple rented the moped.
This marks the first moped fatality on the Vineyard since 2001.
Several Island ambulance and fire departments reported at the end of last summer that the overall number of moped accidents had dropped. Four people have been killed in moped related accidents since 1996.
Oak Bluffs fire chief Dennis Alley said there was discussion several years ago about creating an Island-wide moped safety committee, although the push to form the committee abated when the number of accidents declined. With the latest accident, Mr. Alley said Island officials may revisit the subject.
Martina Mastromonaco, the coordinator for Tri-Town ambulance, said she has noticed more mopeds in the up-Island towns this summer.
"I've seen large groups of like four, five and six moped drivers at a time; some without shirts, some without helmets, some with small children on the back. Some of them don't know what they are doing, or where they are going," she said.
Ms. Mastromonaco is a former member of an informal moped committee that first focused on banning mopeds, before shifting its focus to moped safety. Several moped dealers banded together and created a safety video, while other dealers encouraged customers to stay away from up-Island because the roads were too narrow.
"It was quiet the last two years, but there are a lot more mopeds up Island this year. People have to understand the potential dangers of operating a moped in an unsafe manner. Once you leave the parking lot, you are on your own. You have no chance to learn what its like to drive on the road, or realize that there really isn't a side of the road to drive on," Ms. Mastromonaco said.