Civilian charged in fatal wreck
March 19, 2003
NAGO, Okinawa — An American civilian was arrested Sunday after a fatal traffic accident that killed a 31-year-old Okinawa man.
Police identified the American driver as Peter R. Ellis, a 39-year-old employee of a U.S. military base. Ellis was charged with professional negligence resulting in a death as well as driving while intoxicated.
Police filed the case with the Naha District Court prosecutor’s office Tuesday.
Okiteru Iha of Nago was pronounced dead at 11:18 p.m. of massive injuries.
Ellis was driving a sport utility vehicle at 10:25 p.m. on Highway 58, northbound through Nago City. His vehicle missed a curve and swerved into the oncoming lane, according to a police report.
The SUV struck Iha’s car, trapping the Okinawa man inside, a police spokesman said. Rescue crews cut Iha free and rushed him to Hokubu Hospital in Nago, where he was later pronounced dead.
Ellis was unharmed, a police spokesman said.
Police believe Ellis was driving his vehicle inattentively and under the influence of alcohol at the time of the accident. He admitted to consuming alcohol before driving his vehicle, a police spokesman said.
A blood-alcohol test given to him at the scene detected 0.65 milligrams of alcohol per liter on his breath, a police spokesman said. Driving with an alcohol content of more than 0.15 milligrams is illegal in Japan.
A police spokesman said Ellis told them he was a base employee; however, police records did not state where he worked.
— Chiyomi Sumida contributed to this report.