crime

Passenger dies after falling out of taxi; driver arrested

52 Comments

Police have arrested a taxi driver in Katsuragi, Nara Prefecture, over the death of a passenger who fell out of his taxi.

According to police, the small security camera inside the taxi captured footage of a 71-year old man, who appeared to be drunk, falling out of the right side back seat of the taxi traveling along an expressway at 12:40 a.m. on Dec 13, Fuji TV reported. The driver, Kazuo Terai, 64, apparently was not aware that the door had opened and that the passenger, identified as Yasukatsu Okuda, had tumbled out.

Police said that Okuda was hit by a vehicle following the taxi and died of injuries in hospital later.

Police said Terai arrived at the intended destination about 10 minutes after the incident. However, upon glancing at the backseat to announce their arrival, he was quoted by police as saying he was surprised that the passenger had gone. The taxi driver told police he got out of the car and after checking the back seat more thoroughly, proceeded to head back toward the highway hoping to find his missing passenger.

Police later arrested Terai for leaving the scene of an accident. Terai has denied the charges and told police that at first, he had thought his passenger was a fare dodger, trying to get off without paying after they had arrived at their destination.

Terai told police he heard a noise in the back seat at the time Okuda fell out, and that he asked him "Are you OK?" without turning around to see what had happened.

Police said that Okuda called his wife to say he'd been drinking in Osaka and that he was feeling sick. The video indicates that he may have opened the door to vomit and then fell out of the taxi.

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52 Comments
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Is there a law that says taxi passengers must wear seatbelts? I doubt it. Unless the driver was aware that the door was open, he is not at fault. Even if he had reacted as quickly as humanly possible, that man is still going to fall out. The taxi driver is not responsible for anything that happens after the man fell out - at that point, it's up to the other drivers on the road to see and avoid.

But really, this all comes down to a drunk in the back seat who probably grabbed the door handle and just fell out. It's a shame. I can't see any way the driver can be held responsible.

17 ( +17 / -0 )

Every taxi has an automatic announcement asking the passenger to put on their seatbelt. I'm surprised that the drunk guy was able to open the door. I can't see how the driver could turn around while driving on a highway. Looking in the mirror, he would have assumed the guy had lain down.

11 ( +12 / -1 )

@Disillusioned Im sorry did i mistake a 71 year old man for a 11 year old boy? No taxi driver ANYWHERE in the world will tell their passengers to wear a seat belt.

@combinibento Is what you say was the case i really really doubt he would be still heading to the passengers destination and not just running away somewhere and on top of that i really doubt he would be going back the same road looking for him if he knew what has happened.

8 ( +12 / -4 )

Sorry, but this is not at all the driver's fault. A driver can tell a passenger to put on a seat belt, but he is not required to do so, nor does the passenger have to put on the seat belt when asked. How many of you reading this wear a seatbelt while riding in a taxi?

The passenger also fell out the right-side door, which is not controlled by the driver. Nor can the driver easily see someone who is sitting directly behind him. I don't expect a 64-year-old driver at 12:40 in the morning to be especially sharp, these guys are semi-clueless even in the middle of the day. I am sure that the driver has had more than one passenger vomit out the door of his cab, and was probably not at all concerned or surprised, at least until he noticed the passenger was missing.

This being Japan, I wonder if the person who ran over and killed the old man was arrested.

8 ( +12 / -4 )

The passenger opened the door and got out from the moving vehicle by himself. I don't know what the driver could have done, and no, it's not required for the driver to force the passers to fasten seat-belt

I don't see anything wrong that the driver did other than not stopping right there and call the police

8 ( +8 / -0 )

Uh...

Strange that the driver didn't notice the overhead light come on in which would indicate a door opening. Especially considering they were traveling at night.....

I kind of wish I didn't see that video but it looks like the drunk old man just was too out of it to realize the taxi was moving.

Unfortunate situation and an unfortunate result for all.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

Expressway are usually dark/dimmer at midnight. Looking at mirror will not produce anything unless there's a car behind your car. Lights from car headlights dominates the scene. However, driver should have hear the sound of wind blowing all of sudden or he might have thought passenger opened the window (usually driver locks the door). Taxi driver should be innocent in this case (unless he has reason to kill him).

4 ( +5 / -1 )

under the Japanese law, you must wear the seat belt even in the back seat on the express way. the driver has some responsibility for not being more alert, but if you are so drunk to open the door of the car on an express way and fell from the car, that's Darwin's law in action. similar with the drunks who fell from the train platform, etc.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Arrested?? for what? freaking out?

He was arrested for leaving the scene of the accident. I'll ignore the rest of your arrogant rant as being off-topic.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

taxi driver should not be responsible. everyone has responsibility for their own personal safety. opening the door of a taxi while drunk and on the expressway is not safe.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

THe guy climbed out of the taxi on his own accord. The taxi driver cannot drive and stop him from doing what he did.

Yes, he should have been aware of it but he went back to find him and there was a video of it in the taxi.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Welcome to Japan where people go on with mistakes and pretend things are OK; where police grabs someone and blames him for everything that went wrong, where there is little sense in so many everyday matters, and still life goes on as usual ...

2 ( +6 / -4 )

gaijintraveller Dec. 17, 2013 - 10:03AM JST Can you actually open the door of a moving taxing? I thought on most, if not all, modern cars the doors locked over about 5 k.p.h.

Everything in life has risks. If there was automatic lock, how are you going to exit if there was a fire that started from accidents or mechanical failure? Taxi's and limousines have to have exit door that is always available. Problem is that he had been drinking heavily, and no-one should be charged. The doors was already shut when when taxi driver started moving. It's not a faults with the taxi driver, and the door had been opened by the passenger and he had become unbalanced as the car was moving. He was not pushed out by anybody. It is clear this was accident with extremely unfortunate series of events.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

It looks like he was getting out of the taxi rather than vomiting out the door. The driver was probably focused on driving and thought the man was switching on the interior light to check his wallet and he must have guessed the man was drunk so any shuffling or window opening may have been ignored. Most taxi drivers (in Tokyo) don't ask customers to put their seat belts on, though they should. Anyway the driver seemed oblivious to the fact that his customer had gone and so it is unfair that he is has been arrested for leaving the scene of the accident. How sad all round.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

I am generally all against taxis, but this one is not at fault,if a drunk fool decided to take a leak mid ride on a highway ..there is nothing the driver could have done to prevent it within the current regulations. when it will be mandatory to forcelock all doors and put seatbelt on in the backseat , then lets talk about it again....

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Drunk people tend to either fall asleep, or fidget a lot - the latter especially if they feel a bit poorly. The passenger may well have been moving around a lot, fumbling in his bag, moving from side to side, turning the lights on and off to dig in his wallet ... The cabbie would have wanted to get the guy as soon as possible, to avoid vomit, so would have been focussed on the driving. It's certainly not the cabbie's responsibility to check on the guy every few minutes - get him home, pour him out of the car and up to the door if necessary, and get the fare. Nobody expects their passenger to open a door and fall out of a car!

2 ( +3 / -1 )

I doubt, he didn't notice that the light went on when he opened the door?

1 ( +4 / -3 )

What was going on in front of the driver, that had him paying so much attention there? Merging traffic from the looks of things. So the drivers got headlights coming up behind and beside him, as well as the overheads. Perhaps that's how he missed his own interior light coming on?

And at this time of year you're paying extra attention to every other vehicle for fear of drunks behind the wheel.

If we have to put the blame anywhere, put it on the drunk and the friends he got so plastered with. You'd think he'd know his limits by age 71! Poor bloke.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Mirai, not anymore. They changed the law (I think 2 years ago?), so everybody has to buckle up on the express way, may it be taxi or bus

1 ( +3 / -2 )

No disrespect, but this is about OSAKA, Kansai?? So, should anyone who knows anything about how bad the drivers in that part of Japan and the over all lack of any sort of common sense, say no more?? RIP old drunk dude

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Firstly, how did he not see the light coming on? Secondly, he would have seen the door open out of the corner of his eye in the door mirror. Thirdly, listen to the audio and you can quite clearly hear a rustling 'crump' noise as the passenger falls out of the door. He would also have seen the accident behind him as the following car hit the poor old man.

However, when he gets to his destination the driver gets out the car, goes round to the back, gets back in and turns the taxi round... why? Is he doing it because he knows the camera is recording all of this? Or does he genuinely not know?

It's all a bit strange.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Two men, unknown to each other, locked in a tragic and preventable accident.

The video is inconclusive however. It appears, by the motion of the passenger, a controlled and slight pause is detected just before the exit.

Two possibilities:

As suggested, the elderly gentleman may have attempted to expel the cargo of his stomach only to be overcome with dizziness.

Second, and sad to consider, suicide.

In the final analysis of the driver's responsibility, the light, door open and whatever sounds were present at the time, the driver must determine the safety of his passenger, the cab and the traffic directly affected by those elements.

Terai failed to properly investigate the condition of his cab and his passenger. Both failures are negligent. However, neither responsibility would have saved a 71 from certain death in falling from the cab on a busy expressway.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

But really, this all comes down to a drunk in the back seat who probably grabbed the door handle and just fell out. It's a shame. I can't see any way the driver can be held responsible.

As the article says, he was arrested for leaving the scene, not causing the passenger's death.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

@Offwithyourarrogance....

I guess next, they are going to lock u in the taxi to prevent people falling out.

In the UK the black 'Hackney' cabs all have doors which lock when the vehicle is in motion. A little light comes on on the inside face of the doors as soon as the vehicle starts moving to let you know they are locked.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I do not want to sound discriminatory against Osaka, but the first time I took a taxi in Osaka, the DRIVER was watching his TV on the dashboard, enjoying the Hanshin Tigers baseball game as he was waiting to pick up us and just kept on watching his favorite baseball team as he drove us to our destination, somewhere down there in Osaka, Sorry, but I have neer seen a dingbat Tokyo taxi driver watch tv on his dashboard from the carnavi, so I was a bit surprised at first, now nothing from Osaka seems to surprise me. Do I feel sorry for this taxi driver, sure! For the drunk dead old dude? Sure, but somebody here mentioned the Darwin Awards.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Hard to know- you would think the driver could recognized the sound of the door opening. On the other hand, his "daijobu?" sounded sincere, and maybe he was focused on the road and assumed the noise was the drunk falling over?

Nobody gets out of a moving car, so when he looked in the mirror, maybe he thought "I can't see the guy in the back seat- he must've fallen over." because he just couldn't believe the guy got out.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Can you actually open the door of a moving taxing? Yes you can...see video above

I thought on most, if not all, modern cars the doors locked over about 5 k.p.h.

No...Maybe in the US/UK? they have the autolock feature, but many cars in Japan don't. Also, take a look at the Japanese taxis. Although they may be new (as in built relatively recently) most of them are based on a 15 to 20+ year old design.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

An easy way to prevent this would be to have self-locking doors that can only be opened by the driver. Taxis have automatic doors. A passenger should never need to open it themselves.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

As the article says, he was arrested for leaving the scene, not causing the passenger's death.

Exactly. It is hard to see how the driver would not notice the indoor light going on, the door being opened, the rush of outside wind in the car and the sudden road noise. Although, it does seem on the video like that is exactly what happened.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I wasn't aware you could even open the rear doors from the inside. I've never been able to. They don't have the same latch mechanism as a normal car door though, so the door opening and closing doesn't make as much noise as on a regular car.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Two words - not guilty.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

@Magnus Roe: I thought,the driver shut all doors before he goes to drive. Then when he was getting out, he open the doors. Nissan Altima,

0 ( +0 / -0 )

First of all: this 71-year old didn't fall out. He climbed out to judge from this video. Pretty big difference. Secondly, for this taxi driver to only ask "Are you ok?", without even looking back and check up on the passenger is a little strange. For him to keep driving for 10 minutes without even noticing he was passenger-less is beyond comprehension.

-1 ( +4 / -5 )

How can the driver not have noticed in his driver side wing mirror?

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

how come the driver didn't see the guy falling from the wing mirror and/or notice the cold wind coming from the open door? or did the guy close the door after he fell out???

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

Looking at mirror will not produce anything unless there's a car behind your car.

I think the idea is to see if the passenger is okay. If the passenger was obviously drunk when he enter the car, the driver should have exercised reasonable care but checking his passenger every few minutes to see if he's okay.

My earlier comment:

which tells me that this was a case of the driver trying to flee from the scene of the crime.

Should be: which tells me that this WASN'T a case of the driver trying to flee from the scene of the crime.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

Knox HarringtonDec. 17, 2013 - 10:43AM JST Modern cars frequently have automatic door lock on moving vehicles. Thus, in the case of an accident, the vehicle has stopped and the doors can be opened.

They tell me why these passengers could not open the door to 1999 Lincoln Limousine? There was a recent fire in the limouine in California that killed 5 people. They couldn't get the back door opened.

http://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/Limo-fire-kills-5-on-San-Mateo-Bridge-4489847.php

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Fare dodger, trying to get off without paying after they had arrived at their destination. Thats totally a BS from the taxi driver.

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

Prior to reading this article, did anyone else think that this would be a case of one of those automatic taxi doors malfunctioning, or was it just me?

@Mikune Hara

No taxi driver ANYWHERE in the world will tell their passengers to wear a seat belt.

Taxi drivers in Japan tell their passengers to wear their seat belts like all the time! As a matter of fact, some taxis even have automated messages and flashing lights that tell the passenger to wear their seat belts.

The driver is partially at fault. Given the state of the passenger (drunk), he should have asked him to wear a seat belt. If the passenger refuses, then its no longer the driver's problem.

Secondly, the driver was too oblivious of his passenger and his surroundings. The cabin light coming on when the passenger opened the door should have gotten his attention but it didn't, and he definitely should be faulted for that.

Having said all this, the moment the passenger opened the door and fell out of the car while on the expressway, it was over for him. There isn't a thing that a driver could have done to save him, so he should not be responsible for his death. Being responsible for leaving the scene of an accident.... perhaps (for the reasons above), but then again, he did return to the expressway to try to find his passenger, which tells me that this was a case of the driver trying to flee from the scene of the crime.

Lastly, for shis sake, know your fricken drinking limits. Every damn year, there are these senseless and ridiculous deaths from people who drank too much at their bonenkai's and fall off the platform of train station or whatever. This guy was a 71 year old grown ass man, and he still didn't know his limits. If you can't handle the alcohol, then don't drink...plain and simple.

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

This driver definitely bears some responsibility. You can see the dome light come on, hear the change in noise level when the guy falls out and see the light turn off after the door closes. If you don't notice any of that while driving, you have a very serious problem. He asked if the guy was alright, got no response and kept going without even looking in the back seat. I don't think he should be held completely responsible for the death as the guy was drunk and anyone can unbuckle a seat belt without you noticing, but he should have been more aware and may have been able to administer first aid, put out flares, quickly call an ambulance, etc., if he had been paying attention.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

I believe it is the law in Japan that everyone in a car uses a seatbelt. The driver can receive a penalty if he drives with a passenger not wearing a seatbelt, and that includes those in the rear of the car.

I think there are certain exemptions for some types of cars (taxi, limos, buses, etc). I am not sure what the logic behind the exemption is though.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

While the taxi driver is definitely not responsible for this clown stepping out of the taxi, he is responsible for his passengers safety and well being. Perhaps he could not have prevented the accident itself but he should have had the presence to realize if he loses a passenger during a ride. If he is to old (or dumb) to understand that, when somebody opens the door during a ride on the friggin' highway, he must check out what's going on, he is not suitable for this job. His unaction after this incident is troubling. He ought to be relieved of his taxi licence.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

How on earth is the driver arrested when the passenger was the one that opened the door and let himself out. It boggles my mind that stalkers are left alone and this poor driver gets arrested Where is the self responsibility??

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

Tmary, the CAMERA caught this all on tape!! Not much to argue about, even the OWNER of this taxi company is apologizing on Japanese tv!! Drunk people take taxis all the time, but this time the idiot driver did not even notice the LIGHT go on as his passenger was drunk out of his brains and fell out on to the highway, so any DECENT taxi driver would have NOTICED and slowed down or try to stop in a safe area ASAP, but what did this idiot from OSAKA taxi driver do??? He complains and says BS and yes asking DAIJOUBU etc..only to later find out his passenger is not even in his taxi anymore, all of this caught on CAMERA!!! No way for the taxi company to even try to wiggle out of this one!! And right before the BOUNENKAI season!! Kanpai??

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

I believe it is the law in Japan that everyone in a car uses a seatbelt. The driver can receive a penalty if he drives with a passenger not wearing a seatbelt, and that includes those in the rear of the car.

Can you actually open the door of a moving taxing? I thought on most, if not all, modern cars the doors locked over about 5 k.p.h.

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

Japanese law stipulates that all passengers in a car wear seatbelts. I know this ' cause it was changed a few years back. Before then, backseat passengers weren't required by law to wear seatbelts. Taxis are no exception to the law and the drivers are not supposed to drive with unbelted passengers. They can also, as is said above, be fined if the drive around with unbelted customers. Japan being what it is, though, with selective policing, is probably not enforcing this too hard...

sfjp,

Modern cars frequently have automatic door lock on moving vehicles. Thus, in the case of an accident, the vehicle has stopped and the doors can be opened.

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

大丈夫。。。大丈夫。。。My favorite line.

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

only the left hand side door is automatic. anyone can just open the right side of taxis in japan, which is what the drunken guy did.

If you watch the video, the taxi driver knows that the guy fell out. how much is he to blame for this accident? i'd say not much, but he should have stopped to report that an accident occured.

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

Arrested?? for what? freaking out? Shouldn't he simply be questioned?? Ah I forgot, Japan is nothing like communist China.Since when drivers should be responsible for passengers jumping out of moving cars? Or getting drunk?? Thats the whole point of taking a taxi, so you don't drink and drive. I guess next, they are going to lock u in the taxi to prevent people falling out. Its simply a freak accident and never heard of before, but as usual they will blame someone just so they can satisfy their corrupt judicial system and tidy up the file adding to their boastful 99% conviction rates.

-5 ( +0 / -5 )

@Mikune Haruna - What! Are you serious? Anywhere in the world? I guess your world is quite a bit smaller than everyone else's. Taxis in Australia won't move until all seat belts are fastened. The police stand at taxi ranks and will fine both the driver and passenger. The law is the same in Japan. All passengers in cars must wear seatbelts, front and back.

-12 ( +6 / -18 )

Looks to me like this taxi driver saw the man fall out and, being in a state of shock and disbelief, continued on as many drivers involved in hit-and-runs do. He should just be honest. No one, including myself, will ever believe that a driver can be so oblivious as to completely miss your passenger opening the door on an expressway and falling out of the vehicle.

-15 ( +5 / -20 )

The driver is also at falt for failing to make his passenger wear a seatbelt.

-15 ( +4 / -20 )

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