Driver gets 3 1/2 years for hit-and-run that killed 3-year-old boy, injured mother


A court on Thursday sentenced a 34-year-old man to 3 1/2 years in prison over a hit-and-run incident in Tsukuba, Ibaraki Prefecture, on Oct 20 last year, in which a three-year-old boy was killed and his 31-year-old mother seriously injured.

The Mito District Court handed down its ruling against Kenichi Suzuki, Fuji TV reported. Suzuki, an electrician, turned himself in to police the next day and was arrested on suspicion of dangerous driving resulting in death and injury. However, he denied the charge, saying it was an accident.

The hit-and-run occurred at around 6:30 p.m. on a road near Tsukuba Science City. Mari Wada and her son Tenma were crossing the street at an intersection when they were hit by a black station wagon that kept going. Wada and her son were taken to hospital where Tenma died about two hours later. His mother suffered head injuries.

Suzuki’s car was identified through street surveillance camera footage and by an eyewitness account.

It was raining heavily at the time and there are no traffic lights at the intersection where the incident occurred.

In handing down the sentence, the presiding judge told Suzuki: “The boy’s life will never be returned and I want you to think about the seriousness of what you have done.”

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Leaving the scene of an accident carries up to five years in prison where I come from. Vehicular manslaughter carries a further five years. This joker got off very lightly I think.

14 ( +14 / -0 )

I don't know what the "hit and run" punishment was here, but it needs to be noticeably larger than whatever the worst drink driving penalty could ever be. Otherwise you are encouraging anyone who has had a drink and been in an accident to flee the scene.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Stupid sentencing he should be at least 10yrs in prison.

3 ( +6 / -3 )

Where I'm from, 10 years for careless driving resulting in death, plus 2 years for hit-and-run.

3 and a half year for a dead kid, that's just ridiculous.

9 ( +9 / -0 )

For the life of me, I don't understand the leniency of the penalty given to him. The presiding judge should also consider giving him a punishment by serving the community like helping out in orphanage once a week for 5 or more years.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

Sometimes I feel the judges are very lenient in cases where they could envision themselves,,, but lack of empathy in other cases... Had this guy stopped and called an ambulance right away who knows...

7 ( +7 / -0 )

the presiding judge told Suzuki: “The boy’s life will never be returned and I want you to think about the seriousness of what you have done.”

Here's 3 1/2 years in jail for killing a 3 year old! What a JOKE! The "seriousness of what you've done"? 3 1/2 years in jail for killing a baby? Is the judge serious?

6 ( +6 / -0 )

if it was truly an accident i'm not sure why there is so much hate on the guy.

a hit and run is a bad thing, and if alcohol was involved he deserves a more severe sentence, but otherwise, we don't know ANY of the facts of the case, none of the facts are given in this article.

how can you be out for blood when you don't know a single fact about what happened other than he ran from the scene? the flight instinct is one of the most basic of human responses of survival. he did turn himself in the next day. with the incident happening at 6:30pm it seems somewhat unlikely that he was driving drunk and a blood or saliva test would have detected any residual alcohol the next day. so he deserves punishment for running, but what can be achieved by sending him to prison for 10 years for being involved in the accident in the first place? who is going to benefit from that?

accidents do happen and while they are tragic i do not see the purpose of slapping people with extremely punitive sentencing simply because they were unlucky enough to be involved in one.

would you still be out for blood if your spouse or child ran into an old lady who crossed the street without looking?

every day i'm on the streets of tokyo i see droves of morons crossing very busy roads without looking, despite cars rapidly approaching behind them. all it takes is a split second of inattention or neglect from two parties to result in ultimate tragedy. even at the speed limit, with the narrow roads here there is no way to stop in time if somebody steps off the curb, without checking, predictably, in front of your car. you will hit them no matter what you try to do.

at 20-30kph the average stop distance is 6-11 meters. anyone who steps in front of your car within that distance is going to be hit. at higher speeds the distance is far greater. it is impossible to avoid all accidents.

i don't see what is achieved by imprisoning someone for 5, 10 years for not being able to react in time. a crime should be judged primarily based on willingness and intent to commit it. 3 years seems reasonable for the stupidity of running from the scene, but given he turned himself in voluntarily and was probably not under the influence of alcohol (it would have appeared in saliva tests) the sentence does not seem wrong.

-1 ( +4 / -5 )

If you are drunk in japan, you better to run away if it wasn’t your fault.. I haven’t seen his blood alcohol reading, but the fact he turned himself in the next day would most probably suggest he was drunk.

3.5 years should be for the injured and traumatized mother PLUS 7 years for the poor kid.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Back home, I hit a highschool kid with my car. He stepped out from behind a bus without looking, and I collected him hard enough that his shoulder smashed my windscreen. The speed limit for passing a stopped school bus there is 20 kms. I was probably doing about 25. I knew it was my fault, regardless how quickly he had appeared in front of me.

But the difference was I stopped immediately, exited the car and sprinted back to where the guy was picking himself up. I apologised, offered to take him to the hospital, offered to call the cops / an ambulance, offered to give him my details, but he said he was fine and got on a bus and off he went.

The guy in the article was likely speeding, or at least not driving to the conditions (heavy rain). I'll speculate here, but at an uncontrolled intersection there is often a pedestrian crossing which we all know are generally ignored in Japan.

I think 3.5 years is too lenient for an accident causing injury and death.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Sorry, have to add to my above post;

I think 3.5 years is too lenient for an accident causing injury and death.

From which the driver fled.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

@RiskyMosaic, I'm not doubting you, but in most countries I know, you're not allowed to pass a stopped school bus precisely to prevent accidents like yours.

These intersections with no stop signs/lights are just crazy, in my opinion. I always drive extra slow when coming to them and probably annoy the driver behind me.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

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