crime

Two plead guilty over death of 5-year-old boy left on bus

18 Comments

The former head of a nursery school and an employee of the school went on trial on Monday over the death of a 5-year-old boy left on a bus for hours in the summer of 2021.

In the opening session of their trial at the Fukuoka District Court, the former nursery school head, Yoko Urakami, 45, and staff member Fumiko Toba, 59, entered a plea of guilty to the charge of professional negligence resulting in death, Kyodo News reported.

The court heard that Urakami, drove the bus on the morning of July 29, 2021, to pick up school children. She and Toba then locked the vehicle after arriving at the school in Nakama, Fukuoka Prefecture, with the boy Toma Kurakake accidentally left onboard.

According to the indictment, the boy was found unconscious after around nine hours in the bus. In an experiment conducted by police to reproduce the bus's conditions at the time, the temperature inside reached over 50 C.

© Japan Today/Kyodo

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18 Comments
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No other plea could realistically be made, the tragedy could have been prevented easily with proper controls and procedures that were ignored. The people that were supposed to safeguard the safety of the children made a mistake impossible to understand and will have to take responsibility for it.

12 ( +14 / -2 )

Urakami and Toba should be locked in a school bus with windows closed left in the hot sun in July for two days. And if they are alive on the third day, they should be locked in prison for two years each.

-12 ( +7 / -19 )

5 year old kids often like to hide when adults call them and try to find them. I remember that I used to. Maybe some leniency is in order.

-17 ( +5 / -22 )

5 year old kids often like to hide when adults call them and try to find them. I remember that I used to. Maybe some leniency is in order.

This kind of thinking would get you arrested and put into jail in any number of countries for child abuse. I have a dear friend, who lost their job, on a US Military installation here in Japan. She worked for one of the CDC's (Child Development Center's) and she left, one 5 year old child, "unattended" for less than 5 minutes, in a totally secured large playroom, as she was taking the rest of her class to another section of the center.

The child was in a room with CCD cameras, all doors locked, a playroom, totally secure, but the parents decided to press charges for "child abuse" and she was taken into custody, by the military police, and fired for "child abuse".

This is a case of the head of the nursery and the employee being 100% irresponsible and criminally negligent. 9 freaking hours! It's a bus used to pick up and drop off kids, they know EXACTLY who and how many, and due to their negligence this child DIED.

There should be no "leniency" what so ever! They should be charged with  more than just "professional negligence resulting in death" it's the level of 3rd degree MURDER!

FYI while there are varying definitions of 3rd degree murder this does fit the bill here:

Whoever, without intent to effect the death of any person, causes the death of another by perpetrating an act eminently dangerous to others and evincing a depraved mind, without regard for human life, is guilty of murder in the third degree and may be sentenced to imprisonment for not more than 25 years.*

I can not for the life of me see how anyone can see the death of a child in this case, not noticed, or even possibly "hiding" in a totally enclosed environment, of a bus, probably a small micro-bus at that, advocating for leniency. It's mind boggling!

7 ( +14 / -7 )

"" the boy was found unconscious after around nine hours in the bus""

Not only they locked him in the bus to die, but entire team and their system failed to recognize that the boy was missing.

There is NO way in hell that any of these people should ever care for kids anymore.

17 ( +19 / -2 )

Throw the book at them. The recklessness these two showed towards the safety of children is unforgivable.

Rest in Peace to poor little Toma.

6 ( +9 / -3 )

as for me most horrific thing is that boy was not missed at school whole day...as nobody cared.

they just did "their job" as "routine"...

5 ( +9 / -4 )

Suspended sentences, I'm sure, with the judge citing that they have "shown remorse", and since we know the value of a child's life here is next to nil.

5 ( +9 / -4 )

This happened again a few weeks ago.

I know the temptation is to severely punish these people, but the important thing is to introduce safeguards to ensure it doesn't keep happening. I don't really care whether these people go to prison, only that they are banned from looking after children because they have failed the "let's rely on workers' common sense/duty of care" test.

If strict safeguards are introduced, we can then punish people severely for actively endangering children, not doing so through ineptitude.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Basically they had one job....safeguard the children...and they failed.

Jail time should be imposed.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

The whole discussion about this incident and the new one is on the wrong tracks. No kid will be so quiet as to not be seen. Most likely the kid was making noise/trouble and as a punishment, they left him in the bus and locked the door. Very clearly NOT about “forgetting” someone on a bus! Think!

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Yes they failed to do their job. Yes they made mistakes but they didn't intend to harm anyone. Sticking them in prison for years isn't going to bring anyone back or prevent it happening again. The nursery is now closed, the two defendants will have to live with what they did.

However, I can understand the parents wanting the harshest punishment. Sadly I don't think it will help them.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

This is a very sad story. I'll bet that whatever prison sentence they get will be nothing compared to the feelings of regret and guilt....and then even more insignificant compared to the grief and sorrow of the poor parents. May God comfort the parents.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Is it not normal to call a register in the morning?

1 ( +2 / -1 )

I don't get it. How hard would it have been to perform a head count and final sweep of the bus? Were they in such a hurry that they couldn't spare the couple of minutes it would have taken?

1 ( +2 / -1 )

They will get suspended sentences if they plead guilty (already done), settle with the family (or at least deposit any rejected sum with the prosecutors of evidence of their effort), and they haven't had any previous convictions. Jail is for criminals, and first-time offenders often are not seen as true criminals.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Maybe put a button with a sensor at the back of the bus that has to be pressed before the driver can leave or sign out.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

I thought this was about the elderly driver that caused a similar death recently, It is really sad to remember another death happened before in a similar way.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

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