Yokosuka sailor charged in fatal crash
YOKOSUKA NAVAL BASE, Japan — A Kitty Hawk sailor arrested near the base by Japanese authorities Jan. 5 after a fatal automobile collision was charged this week with negligently causing a local man’s death.
Petty Officer Joel Beza, 23, was indicted Monday at the Yokosuka branch of Yokohama District Court with “death caused by professional negligence.” No preliminary hearing date has been set, according to the court.
According to Japanese police, Beza ran a red light at about 10:30 p.m. at an intersection on Route 16 about 6 miles south of the base. Beza’s car collided with the car driven by Kenichi Kinoshita, 64. Kinoshita, of Yokosuka city, died of chest injuries at a local hospital about an hour later. Alcohol was not a factor in the crash, police said.
Beza has been in custody at the Yokosuka Pretrial Detention Facility since his arrest. Japanese authorities declined to say whether they would turn over pre-trial custody to the U.S. Navy, which pays for Japanese legal representation for sailors accused of crimes off-base.
The maximum penalty for a conviction on charges of “professional negligence resulting in death or injury” is five years in prison. In the Japanese legal system, licensed drivers are considered “professional.”
An 8-year-old boy riding in a third car received minor injuries the collision, apparently when the force of the crash pushed Kinoshita’s car into it. One of two Kitty Hawk sailors riding with Beza also suffered minor injuries.