The midsummer's holiday passed relatively peacefully for first responders, though the situation on the roads has been highlighted as a concern, as well as the rising temperatures going into the weekend, while drink driving presented a more serious challenge, as did domestic violence issues.
The break started for many people on Wednesday lunchtime, continuing through Thursday for Victory Day (Võidupäev) and midsummer's night (Jaaniöö), while Friday is Jaanipäev – midsummer's day – itself, meaning the break segues into a long weekend.
Figures for entire break, June 22-24
The main worries related to drink drivers and serious traffic accidents; 133 offenses were registered, around 50 more than midsummer last year.
Three road traffic accident fatalities were reported over the break: One on June 22 involving a 40-year-old man in Viljandi County, and another on June 23, when a 29-year-old man was killed after hitting a bridge pillar in his car in Pärnu.
The third incident took place on the evening of June 23, after a 13-year-old Tartu boy sustained serious head injuries after a fall from an e-scooter, and later died.
Over the two days, over 24,000 drivers were breathalyzed, with 133 declared under the influence of alcohol and a further six suspected of being under the influence of narcotics.
Over the same period last year, 81 drunk drivers were apprehended.
Police and Border Guard Board (PPA) chief operations officer Rain Jõeveer said Saturday that: "In total, police officers acted in just over 1,200 incidents on June 23 and June 24 together, most of them related to alcohol and situations where people put themselves at risk."
Over a hundred cases of domestic violence were also reported, a rise on previous years.
June 23 - Võidupüha
Indrek Ints, responsible for the authority's activities over the break, said: "Midsummer's Day was particularly calm, which pleases me. However, there is a long and very warm weekend ahead, which will definitely invite people to enjoy the water. I remind the public to keep a close eye on children near bodies of water and to go swimming only when sober."
In the 24 hours to the afternoon of June 23, the Rescue Board had responded to 135 call-outs nationwide, of which 94 related to bonfires left unattended, constructed too close to buildings or which were burning unsuitable and pollutant materials including tires.
By comparison, the board was called out 478 times at the same stage in 2021, though over half of these were the result of storms. In 2020, the board was called out 261 times.
The board had also been conducting spot checks relating to bonfire safety.
At the same time, the PPA had responded to 568 callouts over the same period, slightly higher than average.
Forty-two of the call-outs related to domestic violence incidents, while the PPA also logged seven road traffic accidents, including one fatality in Pärnu (see above).
128 drivers were apprehended exceeding the speed limit, and 17 people were placed in the drunk tank to sober up.
"It could be stated that the traffic picture is still a concern, and the second day off during the holidays once again brought sad news when a young man died in a traffic accident in Pärnu," Jõeveer said (see above).
The state weather service (Riigi ilmateenistus) has forecast temperatures as high as 32C some days, which also raises concerns over safety near bodies of water.
So far this year, 10 people have drowned while taking a dip, nearly half of them this month, with alcohol often a contributory factor.
Indrek Ints of the Rescue Board said that spot-checks, or "raids" as they are called in Estonian, will be conducted in an effort to hammer the safety message home.
The PPA also reported close to a dozen accidents involving e-scooters over the past day, though the link between these and either the holidays or alcohol is not always clear, Rain Jõeveer said, noting that concern over the safety of such vehicles – both privately-owned models and those available for rent by firms such as Bolt and Tuul – were already present (the fatality noted above reportedly involved a privately owned e-scooter).
Among other incidents, a 71-year-old man was hit by a passenger train in Kadrina, Lääne-Viru County, Thursday lunchtime, yet survived and has been hospitalized in Rakvere, while in Tallinn a 75-year-old man hit a 57-year-old woman on an unregulated pedestrian crossing on Järveotsa tee. The woman was walking no fewer than nine dogs at the time. One of the dogs was killed, three were injured - one seriously - while the other five were unscathed, the PPA reports.* The pedestrian was also hospitalized, while the driver tested negative for traces of alcohol.
While most partying had been conducted relatively sensibly, isolated incidents of quarrels and fights had also been reported, Jõeveer said, adding that: "These are no different from ordinary everyday life, you could say."
Breathalyzer spot checks and other efforts to ensure public order will continue over the next few days, Jõeveer added.
This article was updated to include reports for June 23-24.
*More information about the incident (in Estonian) including an option to donate for those that wish, is available on the animal rescue group's (Loomaveeb) page here.
Editor: Andrew Whyte