Japanese ask base to push safety after fatal wreck in Misawa
MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan — Japanese government officials are asking Misawa base leaders to educate servicemembers about the need to drive safely off base in the wake of a fatal wreck Saturday involving a sailor assigned to Naval Air Facility Misawa.
Letters were submitted earlier this week to Brig. General Dana Atkins, 35th Fighter Wing commander, and Capt. Wayne Radloff, NAF Misawa commander, by Misawa City’s vice mayor and a Sendai Defense Facilities Administration Bureau representative.
Killed in the April 3 crash was Misawa resident Kunizou Kuzumaki, a passenger in a light truck that collided with a sports utility vehicle in a Misawa intersection.
A 19-year-old Navy seaman, whose name has not been released, was driving the SUV.
Kuzumaki’s wife, Kazuko Kuzumaki — the driver of the other vehicle — was hospitalized with minor injuries.
In the letter, officials wrote that “according to the research by Misawa Police Station,” the sailor caused the incident by failing to adhere to traffic laws at the intersection’s stop sign.
Misawa base officials said Wednesday they were not aware of any charges filed in the case.
Asked whether the sailor would be charged, a Misawa police spokesman said he had no information to release.
The sailor and NAF Misawa Commander Capt. Wayne Radloff met with the victim’s family Monday night, offering apologies and condolences, said Misawa base spokesman Capt. John Haynes.
The sailor presented the family with solatium, a small amount of money considered as a token of sincere apologies and sympathy to the victim.
“They lit incense and said prayers with the family,” he said.
Haynes said base officials are cooperating fully with Japanese authorities in the accident investigation.
In the meantime, the base is stepping up enforcement of the speed limit on Misawa, Haynes said — an initiative that began before Saturday’s wreck. He said the base has no jurisdiction to enforce traffic laws off base but “we will continue to press harder to prevent something like this from happening again.
“Our ultimate goal is true harmony between the base and local community ... we want to be good guests,” he said.
— Hana Kusumoto contributed to this story.