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YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan — An airman assigned to this base near Tokyo remains hospitalized after an April 4 car wreck put him in a coma.

The 19-year-old is a patient at Tokyo Disaster Medical Center in Tachikawa, a hospital spokeswoman confirmed Tuesday.

Yokota officials said they could not release the airman’s name or update information about his condition without his consent.

The crash occurred at 11:10 p.m. on rain-slicked Highway 16 near Yokota’s Fussa gate, when the four-door passenger car struck the rear end of a truck while traveling in the direction of Mizuho city, according to police.

The 18-year-old driver fractured a shoulder bone, and three other passengers had minor injuries, according to a Fussa city police spokesman, who would not give his name.

The airman was a front-seat passenger. Police do not know whether any of the car’s occupants were wearing seat belts.

Fussa police suspect that the driver was speeding and may not have been paying attention to the road, the spokesman said. It was raining at the time.

In the collision, the engine block broke away from the car as it cartwheeled along the concrete fence between Yokota and Fussa city, according to a Yokota news release. Debris from the car and fence scattered across hundreds of feet.

The truck was not damaged, and its driver was not injured.

Safety officials from Yokota’s 374th Airlift Wing urged drivers to be especially cautious in Japan’s inclement weather.

“We are driving under conditions that most of the personnel on Yokota are not used to,” said Senior Master Sgt. Elbert McClain, chief of ground safety, referring to weather and road surface conditions.

The incident is under investigation. In Japan, police investigate all vehicle wrecks for professional negligence causing injuries and violation of traffic regulations.

— Hana Kusumoto contributed to this story.

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Jennifer reports on the U.S. military from Kaiserslautern, Germany, where she writes about the Air Force, Army and DODEA schools. She’s had previous assignments for Stars and Stripes in Japan, reporting from Yokota and Misawa air bases. Before Stripes, she worked for daily newspapers in Wyoming and Colorado. She’s a graduate of the College of William and Mary in Virginia.
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