Sailor gets 34 months for role in fatal crash
October 26, 2003
SASEBO NAVAL BASE, Japan — A Navy petty officer sentenced to 34 months in prison last week for his role in an April drunken driving incident has been turned over to Japanese officials.
Petty Officer 2nd Class Berry John Gibson, 29, was turned over more than four months after he was indicted for injuring a Japanese motorist and killing her passenger, according to documents filed in Nagasaki District Court, Sasebo Branch.
Prosecutors had sought a 4½-year sentence for Gibson, who was previously convicted of death or bodily injury through negligence in the fatal April 11 crash on Nishi-Kyushu Expressway.
Court records show the crash occurred at 10:47 p.m. At a speed of 75 mph, Gibson lost control of his vehicle in Tenjin-yama Tunnel and veered into oncoming traffic about 3 miles from base, court records show. Police later determined he had been drinking.
His vehicle slammed into the car driven by Rumi Hirano, 18, of Sasebo, records show. Hirano’s mother, Sachiko Hirano, 46, was a passenger in the vehicle.
Sachiko Hirano died of extensive brain bruises and several fractures, Nagasaki Prefectural police said.
Rumi Hirano’s injuries included a broken neck and cervical vertebrae, forcing her to be hospitalized well into the summer.
Gibson also suffered injuries and spent several days in a local hospital, receiving treatment for facial fractures, police said.
— Hana Kusumoto contributed to this report.