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MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan — A U.S. sailor from Misawa Naval Air Facility is restricted to base with suspended driving privileges following a fatal wreck Saturday in Misawa city.

The Navy seaman was driving a sports utility vehicle when it collided with a light truck at an intersection in Misawa’s Sonosawa district at about 7:15 p.m., according to base officials and Misawa police.

Kunizo Kuzumasa, 69, of Misawa, was thrown from the truck’s passenger seat and died almost instantly from massive head injuries, said a Misawa police spokesman. He was pronounced dead at Misawa City Hospital.

Immediately after the collision, the truck ran onto the sidewalk and flipped on its side.

Police detected no alcohol on the breath of either driver, the spokesman said. He noted that no traffic signal is installed at the intersection and there was a stop sign on the sailor’s side. Police still are investigating the incident and conducting voluntary questioning of both drivers, the spokesman said.

Misawa police would not release the sailor’s name. The seaman, who is 19, is considered a minor under Japanese law. Misawa spokesman Capt. John Haynes said the sailor’s identity would not be released unless criminal charges are filed. A second Misawa NAF sailor and an airman from the 35th Fighter Wing were passengers in the sports utility vehicle.

Behind the wheel of the truck was Kazuko Kuzumasa, 67, the victim’s wife. She sustained minor chest bruises and remains hospitalized, police said. The servicemembers wore seat belts and were not injured, said the police spokesman.

Haynes said that Misawa Air Base officials are cooperating with the Japanese National Police in conducting a thorough investigation of the incident.

“Our Misawa Air Base leadership deeply regrets this unfortunate accident and extends their most sincere sympathy to those involved in the accident and their families,” he said.

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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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