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19-year-old man found dead in snow-covered car in Hokkaido

17 Comments

A 19-year-old man was found dead in his car in the city of Obihiro, Hokkaido, after having apparently died of accidental carbon monoxide poisoning as a result of heavy snow, police said.

According to police, Tatsuki Hiratsuka, an employee of discount chain Don Quijote’s Nishi-obihiro store, was found unconscious in his car, parked at the store, just before 2 p.m. on Monday, Hokkaido Shimbun reported. He was taken to hospital, but was pronounced dead soon after. Police said the cause of death was acute carbon monoxide poisoning.

According to Hiratsuka’s coworkers, the man is presumed to have been taking a lunch break in his car at the time of the accident. It had been heavily snowing in the area, with the area receiving 88 centimeters of snow.

Hiratsuka's car was partially covered with snow when he was found. Investigators believe that snow may have clogged the car’s exhaust muffler, leading to a sudden lack of oxygen in the vehicle.

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When your car goes off the road in snow storm conditions, make a trail from the door to the tail pipe and keep it clear. Do this once an hour and turn on the engine of the car for 10 to 15 minutes to warm up the car and then turn it off. Keep repeating this process but you've got to keep the tail pipe clear, so you've got to get out of the car and clear the opening of the exhaust pipe before warming up the car. You can do this for hours and survive without freezing to death hopefully until help arrives.

13 ( +14 / -1 )

Poor lad. Just trying to stay warm and wait out the storm no doubt.

Hopefully others will learn from this.

Great tips from Stormcrow.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

I helped some of my neighbors winterize their cars and they just couldn't believe the things I told them to carry in their cars. This stuff will save your life, I said. At least carry a shovel and a blanket, please.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Hiratsuka’s car was partially covered with snow when he was found. Investigators believe that snow may have clogged the car’s exhaust muffler, leading to a sudden lack of oxygen in the vehicle. Wow, there are just too many mistakes in the last sentence. 1). Snow may have clogged the car's exhaust muffler? That cannot happen. 2) leading to a sudden lack of oxygen in the vehicle. That will not happen either.

-11 ( +1 / -12 )

So sad. And so young.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Sad news

4 ( +4 / -0 )

1). Snow may have clogged the car's exhaust muffler? That cannot happen

What? Yes, snow can most certainly block your tailpipe. For example, it happened to a 19-year-old in Ohibiro, Japan yesterday.

2) leading to a sudden lack of oxygen in the vehicle. That will not happen either.

What the heck do you think happens when a car is flooded with carbon monoxide? The gas displaces the oxygen in the vehicle and then displaces the oxygen in your blood. Then you die.

I hope for your sake you don't ever move somewhere that gets a lot of snow.

13 ( +13 / -0 )

Sioux Chief - lol - well said

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Kapuna - you write with such confidence despite being utterly wrong. If the topic were not so serious, it would be quite amusing. This is not the first time that someone in a car has died from monoxide poisoning whilst stuck in a snow storm. Unlike exhaust fumes, carbon monoxide is colourless and lethal.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Poor kid. Such an unnecessary death of a young man. Now, if we read the article carefully, he did not run off the road, lack preparation etc. etc.. He was probably taking a lunch break (or calling his girlfriend?) in the carpark of the place he worked at... Quote "found unconscious in his car, parked at the [Don Quijote] store, just before 2 p.m. on Monday". Why is there no warm room for workers to take a break? Or if there is, why did it take time to find him? Not great worker care involve, Donki! Having kids who work part-time, I am often aghast at what employers expect and how they are taken so lightly. I feel for this kid's family.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Very sad news. RIP to the young man. And stormcrow's advice sounds helpful. Thanks for the heads-up!

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I agree Rik314, did the chain not have a break room for employees to eat their meals? But maybe he's just the kind of guy that prefers his own space when eating. I've worked with a few like that. despite having a lunch room they'd rather eat in their cube (which is inconsiderate considering it was a cube farm) or in their own cars.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

What the heck do you think happens when a car is flooded with carbon monoxide? The gas displaces the oxygen in the vehicle and then displaces the oxygen in your blood. Then you die.

Actually, there's still plenty of oxygen in the car. The problem is that your lungs pass, and your red blood cells grab, CO more easily than O2. Given the choice of the two, your body grabs the poison out of the air breathed in and you (usually) die with only a headache as a warning.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Very easily done. Iv'e started my car to de-ice many a morning after heavy snow and forgot to clear the exhaust pipe. Fortunately I've never sat waiting in the car. Not sure what planet @Kapuna lives on, it ain't rocket surgery to understand how this can happen

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Too right snow building up around the exhaust pipe has caused many death.

You need to make sure the pipe stays clear of snow if you are stuck in storm and stationary.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Sioux ChefMar. 01, 2016 - 03:31PM JST

1). Snow may have clogged the car's exhaust muffler? That cannot happen

What? Yes, snow can most certainly block your tailpipe. For example, it happened to a 19-year-old in Ohibiro, Japan yesterday.

2) leading to a sudden lack of oxygen in the vehicle. That will not happen either.

What the heck do you think happens when a car is flooded with carbon monoxide? The gas displaces the oxygen in the vehicle and then displaces the oxygen in your blood. Then you die.

I hope for your sake you don't ever move somewhere that gets a lot of snow.

Kapuna is absolutely correct. First, there is no "exhaust muffler" on a car. Second, the "exhaust muffler" cannot be "clogged" by snow. Third, there cannot be a "sudden lack of oxygen".

It should have read something like this:

The car's exhaust pipe was blocked by the falling snow, which the driver didn't notice, and the car was slowly filled with carbon monoxide. The driver died as the result

1 ( +2 / -1 )

The car's exhaust pipe was blocked by the falling snow, which the driver didn't notice, and the car was slowly filled with carbon monoxide. The driver died as the result.

He may well have had the heating system set to draw in outside air, so if the fumes were collecting around his car they'd get sucked in.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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