Police, are analyzing images captured by a dashboard camera on a light vehicle after it collided with a car and rammed into a group of toddlers in western Japan, leaving two of them dead, police officials said Thursday.
The driver of the car, Fumiko Shintate, 52, who was arrested at the scene of the Wednesday accident, told investigators she was not paying enough attention when she made a right turn and collided with the light vehicle that was traveling in the opposite lane at an intersection in Otsu, Shiga Prefecture.
The police are now investigating her on suspicion of negligent driving resulting in death and injury.
The driver of the light vehicle, Michiko Shimoyama, 62, was also arrested at the scene but was released later Wednesday as the police apparently deemed she did not have much responsibility in the accident.
Shimoyama’s light vehicle was the only one equipped with a dashcam, according to the police.
Of the 13 children hit by the light vehicle, two of them, both aged 2, were killed while another 2-year-old was left in critical condition. The other children along with three nursery teachers also received injuries.
Both drivers were uninjured in the accident, which happened around 10:15 a.m. as the children and teachers were taking a walk near their Lemond-Oumi Nursery School.
As there were no guardrails or curbs at the intersection, National Police Agency Commissioner General Shunichi Kuryu said the police intend to beef up safety measures including setting up more guardrails along routes to and from schools.
Neighbors and others continued to come to the accident site Thursday to offer flowers, snacks, and beverages to the young victims.
“It is unbearable to think that children who had only lived two years of their lives died,” said Yoshitaro Fujinaga, 81. “I don’t want people who get behind the wheel to think lightly of driving.”
“There are many children in this area. It pains me to think that the deceased children may have been among them,” said a 76-year-old woman.
The nursery school was closed for the day. Meanwhile, the operator says it will refrain from taking its children out for walks for the time being.