Official: Evidence of drinking in Okinawa hit-and-run
CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — A 25-year-old petty officer third class suspected in a hit-and-run while driving a Navy Humvee Tuesday night near Camp Schwab had been drinking alcohol before the crash, a Navy official said Thursday.
The sailor, attached to Naval Mobile Construction Battalion One, was arrested about two hours after she abandoned a Humvee she had been driving on Route 329 in Henoko, said Okinawa police, who suspect the vehicle was involved in the hit-and-run that injured a 45-year-old man and his two sons.
Okinawa police said a military Humvee smashed into the rear of a compact car about 10:55 p.m. after it had pulled onto the road from a local laundromat. An eyewitness told police the Humvee then sped away.
Okinawa police said Thursday that the Humvee was spotted speeding and had sideswiped another car just before it rear-ended the compact.
The hit-and-run drew quick criticism from Okinawa officials.
Okinawa Gov. Hirokazu Nakaima filed a formal protest with the U.S. military and with Japan’s ministries of defense and foreign affairs.
Yoshiyuki Uehara, executive director of the governor’s office, said the governor asked the military to “tighten the discipline” of its servicemembers.
A 2-year-old boy in the car was treated at a local hospital for facial cuts that required stitches, and his 10-year-old brother had bruises. Their father later complained of whiplash and had a bruised hip, police said Thursday.
The Humvee was found abandoned, its engine still running, by the side of the road about seven miles from the incident. It had a damaged front bumper and headlight, Okinawa police said.
The sailor was located by military police about 1 a.m. Wednesday as she was walking along the road near Kin. She was taken into custody, said Patricia Sloss, spokeswoman for Commander Fleet Activities Okinawa.
“The preliminary investigation indicates that she had consumed alcohol on the evening of the accident,” Sloss said. “The sailor is under military restriction and is under the control and supervision of the unit at all times. The issue of whether she was on duty will be reviewed as part of the ongoing investigation.”
Under the U.S.-Japan Status of Forces Agreement, the United States has the primary right to exercise jurisdiction when military personnel are involved in a collision while on duty.
The Navy would not release the name of the sailor. Okinawa police have made a formal request to have her made available for questioning.