Easter Island is known for its sacred statues called moai. More than 1,000 of the carved stone figures pepper the remote location and serve as invaluable pieces of the island’s indigenous culture and connections to spirits of the past. So when one was destroyed by a rogue pickup truck, it sparked outrage and debate about current transportation policies.
On Sunday, March 1, 2020, the Comunidad Indígena Ma’u Henua, the indigenous community that manages Rapa Nui national park and preserves the area’s archeological and cultural heritage, took to Facebook to post photos of a battered Chevy truck that had run over one of the moai. The statue, which serves as a link to the energy of an ancestor, was destroyed, as was the platform on which it stood.
Thus far, details about what caused the accident are unclear. Some reports indicate the truck lost control due to brake failure, but that is unconfirmed. Further complicating the matter, a CNN caption states that nobody was in the car when it crashed. According to BBC (via CarScoops), however, authorities located the driver and reportedly charged him with damaging a national monument. The investigation is ongoing.
Following the incident, the island’s mayor Pedro Pablo Petero Edmunds Paoa revisited a movement to restrict driving on the island that he had originally proposed years ago. He believes the accident is proof that the time for action is now, even if now is already too late.
For more information about the accident, visit BBC, and for more info on Easter Island, 60 Minutes recently produced a feature about the heritage, the people, and the current state of overtourism.