crime

Japanese driver in fatal U.S. bus crash gets less than a year in jail

34 Comments

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34 Comments
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Seems a bit light.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

I think he'll make a few tight friends if you know what I mean. A year will be a long time...

-7 ( +2 / -8 )

After serving his term he'll be released, and will return to Japan and just disappear into the masses of Tokyo or Osaka. No one will ever know his past and he will go on with his life as if nothing ever happened. Or will he?

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

It wasnt intentional hence the lighter sentence

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

anglootaku

It wasnt intentional hence the lighter sentence

Show me a traffic "accident" that was intentional?

This guy gets a year for killing 3 people due to his neglegence. What would he have got in Japan?

-5 ( +2 / -7 )

Let's hope this Japanese criminal is deported after his (short) sentence, and has his papers marled "Never allowed to re-enter the US again". He got lucky - but sadly for him, he will get lucky in prison...

-6 ( +2 / -7 )

I thought people only ever got a "slap on the wrist" in Japan. Wow. I hope this guy's year feels like 20 years.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

Angloo: "It wasnt intentional hence the lighter sentence"

Of course it wasn't, but it was his own negligence that led to the deaths of three people, and as such I think less than a year is too light. I'm not saying the guy should be sentenced to death or anything -- not at all -- but at least three to five years would be more realistic.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

goddam pot smokin hippie....

-5 ( +1 / -6 )

He gets stoned and kills people in a crash. Then gets only a year.

US justice system sucks.

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

But wait, I thought driving stoned was safe.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

This guy is an idiot, 1 year is way too short! Stupid idiot fool, now 3 people are dead, will never enjoy the rest of their lives because this bakatare could not control his abuse of alcohol and weed etc...RIP 3 Japanese victims in the middle of no where Utah??

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

US is simply hands this guy over to Japan after 1 yr in jail as this Japanese driver killed Japanese passengers in US.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

US justice system sucks.

Kronos -- Hold the phone. Japan must lead the developed world in suspended sentences, and showing remorse is most often given by the judge(s) as a reason for allowing the criminal to walk free. And here we have a Japanese citizen, not a U.S. one, sentenced to 15 years, with one year to be served, because the judge said he seemed "genuinely rependant". And you say the U.S. system sucks? Not following that logic.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Not seeing the problem here. A year in jail with three years of probation in an accident that was not malicious, but rather the result of exhaution. He didn't get behind the wheel of that bus thinking, "I made sure I didn't get enough sleep last night. Let's see if I can fall asleep at the wheel and kill some people." It was an accident, and he's going to be paying restitution for it for years to come, not only financially, but also emotionally.

Also, what it heck IS is it with posters and this obsession with equating prison time to thinly veiled suggestions of rape, as if rape were silmutaneously a suitable punishment for anyone and a hilarious punchline to a joke. Grow the hell up, people.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

It isn't intentional, give the guy a break!

1 ( +4 / -3 )

I agree with the sentencing. I think other posters are missing out on one of the most important purposes of the criminal justice system - rehabilitation. And as the accident wasn't intentional, I'm confident that after serving a year in jail and three years of probation that the man will never commit the same mistakes again. We should be locking malicious, violent criminals up with long sentences, not people who made big mistakes but are truly repentant.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Also, what it heck IS is it with posters and this obsession with equating prison time to thinly veiled suggestions of rape, as if rape were silmutaneously a suitable punishment for anyone and a hilarious punchline to a joke. Grow the hell up, people.

There are people in this world who are truly evil at heart, and just looking for excuses to cause others pain. They will advocate anything. Some of those people are, and others are just foolishy believing they are sincere and taking their lead.

I think it is reassuring to note that most of the family members don't blame the man, and only a couple actually had the audacity ask for a death sentence. Its hard to tell if those asking for death are just some of those who rejoice in death, if they were influenced by them, or if they actually think its the right thing to do after much consideration or if its just an emotion reaction they will take back in time. In any case, I flatly dismiss their opinion. And I think justice has prevailed.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Strange how all these Japanese visitors to the US always have to try marajuana... he had it in his system. I knew many girls that went to "study abroad" in the US, and they all either tried marajuana, had interracial sex, got their first tatoo or knew others who did.. when it was completely opposite of their personality when living in Japan. This guy should have gotten at least 5 yrs.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

@Spidapig24 err 1-3 years is common for most fatality hit and runs, yes none are intentional, though some may be under the influence of alcohol, drugs also..(this isn't the case in question) whichwould serve for a higher sentence, by all means this person is not innocent and does deserve a larger sentence.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Seriously, people need to read the article more closely. It says he was sleep deprived because his company made him work long hours the day before. His exhaustion was a direct result of bad company policy. Why isn't the company under scrutiny and their officers in jail?

It's obvious the marijuana angle is what landed him in such hot water, but it says plain as day that investigators concluded he wasn't driving under the influence of any substances. Marijuana stays in your system for several days; it doesn't mean you're still impaired two days later.

This whole debacle also reeks vaguely of racism. If it were a white driver driving a private car that killed these people and "exhaustion" was concluded to be the cause, I seriously doubt jail time would be in the equation

0 ( +2 / -2 )

There are also nut cases that do intentionally want to crash commit suicide... it has happened before..

0 ( +0 / -0 )

In Japan if convicted he may have received a 1-3 year sentence also

0 ( +0 / -0 )

@Anglootaku,

@Spidapig24 err 1-3 years is common for most fatality hit and runs, yes none are intentional, though some may be under the influence of alcohol, drugs also..(this isn't the case in question) whichwould serve for a higher sentence, by all means this person is not innocent and does deserve a larger sentence.

A hit and run accident denotes an intentional crime has been committed. The perpetrator intentionally left the scene of the accident - usually to avoid prosecution. In this particular case, the vehicle was rolled, so the option of running away was not available (unless he tried it on foot). No intentional crime was committed.

There were no symptoms of impairment due to marijuana when police arrived on the scene. The presence of marijuana wasn't detected until the lab results from the blood test were obtained. That's why the police feel that the driver wan't impaired by marijuana when the accident occurred.

In short, this was an accident caused by driver exhaustion leading to loss of control of the vehicle. As has been pointed out by others, this guy is going to be living out this sentence for MUCH longer than a year. He's going to have to live with the memories of his passengers screaming in pain and for help because of something HE did. He's going to have to live with the knowledge that he ended three lives and permanently changed at least one other life because of his choices in those previous 24 hours. I wonder if he will have the strength to live with that sort of daily nightmare?

2 ( +2 / -0 )

The Jury looked at the facts and determined that this was a accident. Problem is the design of Ford E-350 van that they were riding on. Hooker of Eliseco Systems of Colorado runs vehicle tests in dozens of cases against carmakers. Hooker tested a 1995 Ford 15-passenger van. It's a test for a lawsuit involving the crash of the South Carolina church van in 2000. The test van was loaded with water tanks to simulate 13 passengers plus the driver. Instruments were attached to record steering, speed - all the forces on the van. The van tipped over on its outriggers at 40 miles an hour. At slower speeds, the van did better — it did not lift off the ground in two tests at 25 miles an hour and one at 30 miles an hour. In another test — the double lane change that's designed to simulate an emergency maneuver, the van tipped at 35 miles an hour. The final test is one engineers call the fish hook — it's designed to push a vehicle to its tipping point. The van lifted at 35 miles an hour.

Ford argues that those tests are unreliable. In fact, in 1999, in a 15-passenger van lawsuit, Ford's lawyers said that Hooker's tests were "outrageously severe stunts for the sole aim of tipping up the vehicles." But the judge allowed Hooker's tests. A jury ordered Ford to pay the victims about $20 million. The case is under appeal. Maybe they should sue Ford.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Again with the vendetta against Ford. Perhaps it should be pointed out that because they used outriggers, the "Hooker's" test has no bearing on what's needed to make a van ROLL OVER. Also, companies that are paid to run tests for plaintiffs have no incentive to return test results that absolve the defendant. They won't get any more business if they absolve the defendant. Their "tests" should be taken with a grain of salt.

Couldn't find an Eliseco Systems in Colorado. The only one I found was in Michigan and has a total of TWO employees:

Eliseco Systems Business Information

Eliseco Systems is listed as Accident Reconstruction Service (SIC: 874852) and does business in Weidman, MI. Weidman is located in Isabella County.

The Square Footage of Eliseco Systems's business in Weidman is in the following range: 2,500 - 9,999 SqFt. They use about 2 - 9 PCs.

It is estimated that this company has an annual revenue of about $450000 and employs around 2 employee(s).

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

FadamorAug. 09, 2011 - 04:35AM JST. Perhaps it should be pointed out that because they used outriggers, the "Hooker's" test has no bearing on what's needed to make a van ROLL OVER. Also, companies that are paid to run tests for plaintiffs have no incentive to return test results that absolve the defendant. They won't get any more business if they absolve the defendant. Their "tests" should be taken with a grain of salt.

Here is additional grain of salt to you. According to U.S. government statistics, there were over 1,090 occupants killed in crashes involving 15-passenger vans from 1997 to 2006. Mostly by Ford E-350 vans. Recent high-profile crashes have included:

In July 2007, a 10 year old girl was killed when a 15-passenger van blew a tire and overturned while her family was traveling in South Carolina. Despite wearing a lap seat belt, the girl was ejected and died at the scene. Since her death, her family has started the American Center for Van and Tire Safety, a non-profit organization to raise awareness on the dangers of these passenger vans.

In September 2005, a Utah State University van overturned on a highway about 65 miles north of Salt Lake City, killing eight students and an instructor, and injuring two other students.

In February 2005, in Illinois, two 16-year-old girls were killed when the 12-passenger van that they were riding in rolled over after the driver lost control of the van while returning from a ski resort.

In 2004, three members of a Bronx, New York church group were killed and nine more injured in the rollover of a Ford van at the Canadian border. Lieff Cabraser is representing family members.

In 2003, in East St. Louis, Missouri, a Ford E350 15-passenger van, used by a local church, fishtailed on wet pavement, veered into a ditch and turned on its side. A thirteen year old boy was killed in the accident, and five other children were seriously injured.

In March 2003, four members of the Coptic Orthodox Community in Northern California were killed near Barstow, California, when the 2002 Ford 15-passenger van they were traveling in rolled over after the driver lost control of the vehicle.

In July 2002, a Ford Super Club Wagon van carrying six cheerleaders rolled over near Birmingham, Alabama. Five passengers were ejected. Two were killed. The others suffered injuries ranging from a dislocated hip to partial paralysis.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

FadamorAug. 09, 2011 - 04:35AM JST Again with the vendetta against Ford. Perhaps it should be pointed out that because they used outriggers, the "Hooker's" test has no bearing on what's needed to make a van ROLL OVER. Also, companies that are paid to run tests for plaintiffs have no incentive to return test results that absolve the defendant. They won't get any more business if they absolve the defendant. Their "tests" should be taken with a grain of salt.

Test was also confirmed by NHTSA. Few years ago NHTSA announced research findings that reinforces its existing rollover concerns about Ford 15-passenger vans. As a result, NHTSA reissued its consumer advisory for users of 15-passenger vans for the third time in the past four years. NHTSA research has shown that 15-passenger vans have a rollover risk that increases dramatically as the number of occupants increases from fewer than five to more than ten. In fact, 15-passenger vans (with 10 or more occupants) had a rollover rate in single vehicle crashes that is nearly three times the rollover rate of those that were lightly loaded. During a trial, the families (of the victims) heard clearly that Ford would never issue a recall of the E-350 on its own. Ford has no intention of ever fixing the existing 300,000 15-passenger vans on the road today. It is much cheaper for Ford to settle lawsuits than to do a recall of existing vans.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I'm the Judge. Passive Smokers Beware

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The driver seems to be genuinely sorry for what happened, but the fact is that he should be considered a "professional" driver and be held to a higher standard. Unlike in Japan, where "professional" drivers are pretty much given a license to drive however they want to with very little fear of being held responsible for accidents. He had every right to say "NO" to driving due to being too tired. The article only says that he was tired from a long night of work, it doesn't say if he was working for the travel company or another job. I did not have any connection to any of the people hurt on the bus, so I can't really say if 1 year in prison is "enough", but it seems to be a bit shorter than I would expect.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

It isn't intentional, give the guy a break!

No it wasnt but smoking weed was his decision .... The same as a drunk driver crashing... it wasnt intentional either.... but the drinks were their decision....

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Judge Michael Westfall also ordered the 26-year-old Japanese student to pay restitution to each of the crash victims and court fines.

alot of money tobe paid. how is he going to pay over 1,000,000 dollars of restitution is beyond me. the hospital bills and rehabilation is expensive

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Yes, it wasn't malicious or intentional, but it was irresponsible and cost 3 lives and about 4 others have permanent injuries. I would have liked to see him get a bit longer sentence. To Human saying it was all about the company overworking Mikuni, I would have to disagree. I worked for the same company. He was asked if he could do the job and said yes. He was flown in from Vegas to Salt Lake and picked up the bus and drove it back to Vegas for the job the next day. Flight is 1 hour...drive back to Vegas is 7. Add a few hours in for door to door. That is under the on-duty and driving hours of 15 and 10. (15 total hours on duty...of which 10 can be driving) He was exhausted because of what he did before he flew up and the fact that he didn't get to bed soon after getting back to Vegas. Both of which had nothing to do with the company. Racism? He was asked to do the job partially because the travel agent said they would prefer a Japanese national over a Japanese speaking local guide who was also available. If anything, a citizen would probably have gotten a harsher sentence and treatment if they had killed 3 people from a foreign country in Utah to enjoy a vacation. The state probably would have wanted to come down hard to save the tourism image. Being as the driver and customers were Japanese and he profusely apologized, I think that led the judge to think, "well I am not going to pile on when they seem to have their way of taking care of things".

0 ( +0 / -0 )

nichibotsuAug. 09, 2011 - 04:23PM JST. If anything, a citizen would probably have gotten a harsher sentence and treatment if they had killed 3 people from a foreign country in Utah to enjoy a vacation. The state probably would have wanted to come down hard.

I don't believe that. Mikumi should've been freed without any conviction. In the last 20 years, out of over 1,000 people, mostly citizens that were killed from Ford E-350 rollover problem, how many were actually were convicted of felony manslaughter? Few? He was technically sober. The Investigators said they didn’t believe Mikuni was impaired while driving, which means he was not intoxicated with drug or alcohol. This means he was clean. The rollover was fault of Ford's defective van that they refuse to fix.

Mikumi should consult with a civil lawyer and take action against Ford. He might win. In more than 80% of single-vehicle accidents involving 15-passenger vans that resulted in a fatality, the vans rolled over. Lawsuits filed against van manufacturers claim that they knew the vans were defective in design and unreasonably dangerous because of its instability and tendency to roll over. In a recent lawsuit involving a fatal rollover of a Ford E350 15-passenger van, alleged that Ford E350 vans have three primary safety problems:

They are difficult to handle under fully loaded conditions because they are susceptible to over-steering in emergency maneuvers, which leads to loss of control.

They are unstable when loaded, leading to a significant increase in the risk of rollover crashes.

Once a van rolls over, it is not crashworthy and, as a result, occupants are killed in what would otherwise have been easily survivable crashes.
0 ( +0 / -0 )

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