Fatal wreck involves Atsugi sailor
Stars and Stripes May 30, 2003
YOKOSUKA NAVAL BASE, Japan — Japanese police are investigating a fatal Memorial Day traffic accident involving an Atsugi sailor, but no charges have been filed, U.S. Navy officials said Wednesday.
Navy officials declined to name the sailor whose car struck and killed a 77-year-old Japanese woman. But they confirmed he is a petty officer second class assigned to Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron (Light) 51 at Atsugi Naval Air Facility.
“HSL 51 is cooperating fully with the investigation and deeply regrets the death of a Japanese national,” said Chief Petty Officer Jim Junior, an Atsugi spokesman.
According to Yamato police officials, the accident occurred at approximately 3 p.m. Monday. The sailor was driving his vehicle on a city street when an elderly woman apparently stepped out from between two vehicles idling in a traffic jam.
The sailor’s vehicle struck the woman, whom Japanese police identified as Hisa Handa, a Yamato city resident.
Handa was taken to a nearby hospital, where she was pronounced dead at 8 p.m. Police officials said she was conscious after the accident but that her condition deteriorated after she was taken to the hospital.
Junior said no signs of alcohol were detected and the sailor was not speeding.
The police spokesman said the woman crossed one lane of vehicles that was stopped in a traffic jam but stepped into the lane of vehicles moving in the other direction.
“[The sailor] noticed and turned the steering wheel to the left but was too late,” the police spokesman said.
Yamato police are investigating the accident under the official designation of “suspicion of death caused by negligence in the conduct of business.”
The sailor is not in police custody.
On Wednesday, a commission of local Japanese government officials submitted a letter to U.S. Naval Forces Japan requesting “additional educational efforts be made to prevent recurrence of a traffic accident.”
The Kanagawa Prefecture-City Liaison Conference on U.S. Military Bases, made up of the prefectural governor and mayors of local cities, frequently sends similar letters to American military officials.
“Japanese police are doing a full investigation. The sailor was questioned at the scene by police and we will continue to cooperate in any way we can,” Junior said.