Navy on accident: Three kids 'darted into the street'
January 2, 2006
YOKOSUKA NAVAL BASE, Japan — U.S. officials released additional information Friday about the U.S. Navy sailor who was driving a government-issued minivan that struck three Japanese children last week, slightly injuring them.
The sailor, an E-3 on temporary assignment to the USS Kitty Hawk, was going through a yellow light in Hachioji when the three “darted into the street,” according to a U.S. Air Force accident report.
The driver had been traveling north on the Hachioji bypass, the report said, and slowed for the light but did not stop.
The children — two 8-year-olds and a 9-year-old — had cuts and bruises; one child’s clavicle was broken.
At the time of the incident, the driver was en route from Naval Air Facility Atsugi to pick up airplane parts from Yokota Air Base. As of Friday afternoon, the 23-year-old sailor still had not been charged with anything and therefore was not being named, said Commander, Naval Forces Japan spokeswoman Chief Petty Officer Maria Yager.
A toxicology report indicated alcohol was not a factor, Yager said.
She also said reports in some Japanese newspapers that described the incident as a “hit-and-run” are inaccurate. The sailor “pulled out of the intersection and stopped the vehicle,” Yager said. “She called her chain of command to let them know what happened, then went back to the scene.”
Because the sailor was on duty at the time, the U.S.-Japan Status of Forces Agreement grants the United States primary jurisdiction over the matter. Yager said Friday she was unaware of any U.S. move to claim such jurisdiction.
The sailor was not in Japanese custody as of Friday, Yager said, but “we are cooperating with the local Japanese police.” Should there be any further legal action, letting it “go through the Japanese system … just for the sake of good relations” remains a possibility, Yager said.
She said all three of the children’s families accepted the sailor’s Dec. 24 “gomen” visits of apology.