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4-year-old boy crushed to death by parking garage car elevator

61 Comments

A 4-year-old boy was crushed to death by an apartment parking garage automobile elevator in Hanamaki, Iwate Prefecture, on Monday night.

According to investigators, it is believed that the boy, the son of a doctor living in the apartment complex, became trapped between the elevator mechanism and the rear wall of the car park, TBS reported Tuesday.

Police said the boy's mother was parking her car in the underground garage when the accident occurred. The woman told police that as the platform began to rise, she realized her son had been left behind, at which point the door automatically closed. She was quoted as saying that she was unable to reopen it, TBS reported.

Police said the boy died at the scene after his pelvis was crushed by the mechanism.

An investigation is underway to determine the exact cause of the accident.

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61 Comments
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One would almost think that without freak accidents and incidents involving children, Japanese news agencies would go out of business. The newspapers would be several pages shorter. Its not my definition of news...does everyone nationwide (and internationally, here) need to know that a child was crushed by a garage door, or hit by a sleepy truck driver, or allowed to fall of a ninth floor balcony? Should it be treated as a pandemic? A social trend? Is it child endangerment porn for those who live off righteous indignation? How many posts will it take for someone to sanctimoniously write "RIP little guy"?

-29 ( +4 / -33 )

So sad, RIP little guy. And let's hope we can avoid the usual barrage of blame on the mother.

11 ( +15 / -4 )

RIP lil one, How could your mom not know you were not with her. omg

0 ( +7 / -7 )

That is gruesome. How could the woman not realize where her kid was?

-1 ( +7 / -8 )

Up to around 5 or 6, always hold hands with your child. After that, don't take your eyes off your child.

4 ( +7 / -3 )

So sad, RIP little guy. And let's hope we can avoid the usual barrage of blame on the mother.

Thats right, jamurai. Another brain dead decision to let a 4 year-old run around (heavy machinery in this case) while she parks a car. I guess having him buckled up in the back seat was too "mendokusai".

0 ( +9 / -9 )

Another careless mistake leading to another unnecessary death...RIP little boy.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

Mother of the year. This is so horrible... I cannot even begin to imagine the pain and suffering the boy felt in his last moments. RIP, little one. Mom, try to take more care in the future, though of whom I know not.

-5 ( +6 / -11 )

Another gruesome death of a kid at the hands of an incompetent parent.

-6 ( +7 / -13 )

Sad story as a result of another careless mother, RIP little boy.

Maybe they need to have compulsory child care courses here for parents once mother and child leave the hos[ital, to teach these potential carelss parents to be more careful with their young, outside always hold their hands, never leave them alone and never take your eye off them, and never ever let them run around outside unless in a securely fenced park. Life is not a game !

-1 ( +6 / -7 )

While every one Is pointing fingers at the mother you are right she is at fault here but no one is a perfect parent you think alot of thing sometimes and you forgot the most important thing you must do and this is one big carelessness of a mother and end up so tragic aswell. I could only imagine her horror when she remember her son was not with her and trying to stop the machine and try to do everthing to save him but cant then find your own child dead by your own carelessness,. We could be careless sometimes and end up with minor injury or very regretable tragedy. The mother may not forget and forgiven her self for what happened. RIP young ones its so sad that he have to feel the pain of his body crushing before he died, so sad.

10 ( +12 / -2 )

So obviously this was an accident that could have been avoided. My point is horesfell that readers on here so readily prefer to jump to conclusions and always assume maliciousness is involved. We don't know the mother. But I am sure she is in a terrible place right now. @ Poke: I agree with you that this is not news. Perhaps this paper reports such incidents because it enjoys the reaction. btw I am the father of a 4-year-old. I don't think it is being sanctimonious to say RIP little guy.

sanc·ti·mo·ni·ous/ˌsaNG(k)təˈmōnēəs/ Adjective:derogatory. Making a show of being morally superior to other people.

Perhaps you should aim this charge at those who wish to damn this poor woman, based on very limited information and a general perception (formed to a large extent by the ridiculously large and disproportionate number of such articles that make the news on here) that Japanese parents can't look after their kids.

So I'll say it again. RIP little guy. And to the mother, I hope your pain will ease one day.

9 ( +10 / -1 )

Unimaginable horror and God Bless the little guy.

I would blame to some extent Japan's poor product defect law. As much as US lawyers are hated, they make money off finding dangerous products and forcing the manufacturers to fix them.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

I could only imagine her horror when she remember her son was not with her

Why wasn't her son with her? Because she is an incompetent parent, of course. I know you can't chain your kids up, but you can keep an eye on them. She was probably too concerned about getting inside to watch the next episode of her Korean drama to worry about where her kid was.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

What has product defect law got to do with this case? Based on what is written above the mother briefly and tragically lost control of her child. If you take your argument to extremes then practically every product is POTENTIALLY dangerous. Where do you start? Kitchen knife - that is dangerous. Car, motorcycle etc. It;'s the users who are potentially dangerous not the products.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Readers, please do not use this thread to lynch the mother.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Their entire family are victims here, can't imagine the their suffering, hence why we should put words of encurrangement rather than blame. No mother in their right mind would want to commit a mindless mistake like this one. RIP little boy, may your next life be lived to its fullest. Parents, may you have the currage to face and pass this period of difficulty in your life.

7 ( +9 / -2 )

Perhaps you should aim this charge at those who wish to damn this poor woman, based on very limited information and a general perception (formed to a large extent by the ridiculously large and disproportionate number of such articles that make the news on here) that Japanese parents can't look after their kids.

Well said. I can't believe the number of posters here condemning the mother when they know nothing of how it happened. We are not talking Pachinko car death here. A four year old can easily and quickly escape attention due to no fault of the mother. Without knowing the facts myself I'll give her the benefit of the doubt. She has to live with this, which must be terrible.

4 ( +7 / -3 )

Again with the parents, watch your kid at all times!

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

I have noticed that Japanese people have a different understanding of the danger of moving objects, cars etc. How often have you been backing your car and some Japanese person with stand between your car and a wall and instruct you to back towards them or stand right in front and get you to drive right up to them then say OK desu. The outcome of a pedal slip is all too obvious but they never quite seem to get the idea that they should not get in the way of moving machinery. I honestly don't understand this thinking. This could be another case of this kind of foolishness.

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

Second one in six months. People need to start learning how to deal with situations like this. These things have emergency cutoff switches, usually a big red button near the up/down buttons.

Perhaps they should include a motion sensor of sorts to disable automatic down/up if there is movement. Not too difficult to implement for new models. For older models just disable automatic down/up and force people to keep pressing the button for the device to move, if they are unable to add a motion sensor.

1 ( +6 / -5 )

oh my.. i can hardly finish reading the article... so gruesome. RIP little boy

1 ( +1 / -0 )

jamurai: "My point is horesfell that readers on here so readily prefer to jump to conclusions and always assume maliciousness is involved."

Pointing out the obvious neglect is in no way saying the mother did this intentionally or with any malice. Do you deny neglect? The kid would not be dead if there wasn't any.

"We don't know the mother. But I am sure she is in a terrible place right now."

Must be absolute horror and pain. I can't imagine. I wouldn't wish that kind of thing on anyone, especially knowing it's your fault.

2020hindsight: "I can't believe the number of posters here condemning the mother when they know nothing of how it happened."

We know mom is guilty of neglect, and a young child is dead. What more need be known?

" A four year old can easily and quickly escape attention due to no fault of the mother."

Open and close a car door without anyone noticing? More likely than not she allowed the kid to jump out early without any protest or regard for safety, and to a very, very tragic end.

basroil: "Perhaps they should include a motion sensor of sorts to disable automatic down/up if there is movement."

Wow... I agree with you!

-3 ( +4 / -7 )

That hurts.... ever since the accident where another child was killed by similar parking elevators, I've seen warning signs around showing how dangerous these elevators could be.

At least we need to keep track of where our child is when putting these huge machines in motion.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

TSRnowJul. 24, 2012 - 04:06PM JST

That hurts.... ever since the accident where another child was killed by similar parking elevators, I've seen warning signs around showing how dangerous these elevators could be.

Perhaps they need to show new users the coke can test? You know, blowing up a full can of soda with the lift. If that doesn't scare them into being watchful, I don't know what will. Nobody pays attention signs.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

We know mom is guilty of neglect, and a young child is dead. What more need be known?

No. You assume it's because of neglect.

Open and close a car door without anyone noticing? More likely than not she allowed the kid to jump out early without any protest or regard for safety...

More assumptions.

4 ( +7 / -3 )

RIP little boy.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

unbelievable the posters here who "need more information", and don't want to "assume anything". Just more evidence that people today are totally afraid to take on or assign responsibility to anything or anyone. A 4 year-old child doesn't suddenly escape from a car without the parent noticing. Thats not malice, its just pointing out the painfully obvious. 

0 ( +4 / -4 )

Sounds to me that she and her son exited the car at the car-park together. Most cars if not all got child-locks and most are on by default.

Also sounds like it was a parking tower(ie a commercial installation at a store, etc).

Similar case recently where a child was crushed at an apartment building, you know those car-elevators that park 2 cars underground.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

SmithinJapan: Like I said, in the very sentence before you chose to quote me: "So obviously this was an accident that could have been avoided". Of course I don't deny she may have been negligent, we just don't know the circumstances. In accidents resulting in the deaths of children you could make a case in hindsight that 100% of these deaths could have been avoided if such and such had been done. You remember the James Bulger case in Liverpool. Did you blame the mother then? If she hadn't let the kid out of her sight.... All I'm saying is we don't know the full circumstances , so we shouldn't pass judgement. Perhaps she was tired, stressed,laden down with shopping,having a particularly bad day,perhaps her husband was abusive and she hadn't got the dinner on yet, whatever, and she let her guard down, or perhaps the parking lot was layed out in a way that was difficult to get the kid out of the car after mounting the elevator,WE JUST DON'T KNOW. If she had kept her eye on her kid the whole time and in a parking garage of course she should have, no, he may not have died. And now she will probably never forgive herself.

More likely than not she allowed the kid to jump out early without any protest or regard for safety... More than likely? As 2020hindsights points out quite correctly, this is the kind of prejudiced assumption which barely merits a reaction. We can all hypothesise on what happened, but like the MOD says, lets not lynch the mother based on unfounded prejudices.

Finally, I'd be interested in how many readers who are so ready to condemn this woman are parents themselves? I like to think my wife and I keep a good eye on our daughter at all times but nonetheless, there have been occasions where she'll dart off suddenly and who knows what freak event could have happened but didn't, by the grace of God, in those few seconds. No doubt the armchair parents on JT would be down on us like a ton of bricks, no doubt smugly reassuring themselves of what wonderful parents they would make.

7 ( +9 / -2 )

A 4 year-old child doesn't suddenly escape from a car

He was not supposed to be inside the car. Frankly I don't understand the accident. I can see a car elevator in front of my window... I can't figure it. There are different models, but still. Crashed under yes, be behind ? So it seems the boy entered the mechanism box ? I wouldn't have thought that was possible. The mother surely made a mistake, but maybe the designer of the elevator too.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Parents are responsible for the upbringing of a child. Kids are to be taught right from wrong until they are old enough to understand for themselves.

The fact that this mother didn't know where her child was, is her mistake that she will have to live with for the rest of her life; there is no one else to point the finger at.

While this indeed an avoidable tragedy, it isn't as unbelievable as the recent horror stories of mothers being on chat rooms or kids falling from balconies and other such parental neglect.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

Dear god...

2 ( +2 / -0 )

by crazyjoe: Up to around 5 or 6, always hold hands with your child. After that, don't take your eyes off your child.

$$ you obviously don't have kids or you'd know how idiotic that statement is.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

duke

I think crazyjoe means if you are in a dangerous place hold the childs hand. It doesn't sound idiotic to me, just think about it.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

very tragic news for all involved.

having lived in an aparto with a three-level mechanical parking gargage, i can tell you they are quite dangerous.

for those that do not already know, those mechanical garages usually require all passengers to alight the car (after parking it) before it can be buzzed back into its parking position. there is usually a gate that closes shut before the car is repositioned back into his usual spot (whether ground level or higher). this is controlled from the control pad, which means while the driver is punching numbers or commands into the control pad, his or her eyes will be diverted (from watching little ones, if they are not already holding hands). im not sure about all mechanical garages, but the one at my previous aparto had an emergency stop button. it was a big red button below the control pad. i wonder if there was one available on this machine.

fault or no fault, i am sure the mother blames herself anyway and is in a place of torment that what we say will not make a difference.

rip little one.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

We call these "freak accidents," but they are also bad design accidents. Japan is supposed to excel in industrial design, but children have been killed by Japanese-designed and manufactured elevators and sliding doors. I recall one kid who was killed because he bent down to look the escalator mechanism in a department store and got his head jammed between the floor and the rubber belt.

Powerful machines in public places should be designed for the most stupid, careless person in the world. A good designer should be able to become that person and anticipate what might happen. This accident should have been impossible.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Poor little boy dies getting his little pelvis crushed, this is just so painful and sick. Do not go and blame the careless mother?? I would say that she should go to hell but my guess she is already in a world of hell for not being more careful, but just a thought, why does a doctor live in an apartment?? They make more than enough $$$ to live in better housing.

-9 ( +1 / -10 )

why does a doctor live in an apartment??

some apartments are quite luxurious and expensive, and some doctors don't make that much money. i don't think his choice of abode has much to do with the accident tho. mechanical parking garages are in many places.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

2020hindsight: "No. You assume it's because of neglect."

Ummm... It's pretty obvious, my friend. So the kid just slipped out of the car without opening or closing any doors, if you're to be believed, and it's an 'assumption' that mom wasn't paying attention when her son got out and was then crushed to death. Hmmm... Okay, well, let's take the opposite tack since you say I'm only assuming -- she was paying full attention, let her son get out of the car to where he would be crushed to death. So either she didn't know what was going on and was negligent or she DID know what was going on. Which is it, hindsight?

-7 ( +2 / -9 )

jamurai: "No doubt the armchair parents on JT would be down on us like a ton of bricks, no doubt smugly reassuring themselves of what wonderful parents they would make."

Once again you take the facts and twist them into some bizarre justification. Who no here, who has criticized the mother for the obvious neglect (which you admit) says they are a better parent? Stop misdirecting.

If this were the father that did it there wouldn't even be a 'no lynching' warning from the Mods, the guy would have been crucified already. I don't understand why people always feel so sorry for the women who are guilty of crimes and/or the neglect that leads to them.

Sure, let's not 'lynch' the mother, but I'll be damned if I'm going to pat her on the back (which was turned while she should have been taking care of her kid).

-7 ( +2 / -9 )

I would seem to me that everyone needs to get out of the car before it's lifted to its storage spot. So all those berating the mother for not leaving the child buckled up in the car have to think things through a little better. She still should have made a visual check that her son was clear of the equipment before activating the lift, but that has nothing to do with whether the child was buckled in the car or not.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

My prayers go out to the mother, family and friends of this little boy. Such a tragedy. Being a father of two I know how quickly little ones get "get away" from the watchful eyes of a parent. Even as a young boy I remember a couple of times getting away from my mother in a store and hearing her frantic calls for me. People are quick to blame the mother or the design of the lift, but what it comes down to is...it is just a sad accident. All it took was a split second for this to occur. Parents can be as watchful as can be and tragedies still happen. Our thoughts and prayers should be going out to the mother, I can't imagine how she is feeling. I pray she finds comfort.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

Kevin: "Our thoughts and prayers should be going out to the mother, I can't imagine how she is feeling. I pray she finds comfort."

Perhaps our prayers and thoughts should have gone out to her yesterday that she not neglect and indirectly cause the death of her child. Alas, hindsight is 2020, as they say. I have no doubt she is suffering, and I am 100% honest when I say that is a tragedy as well as what happened, but the bottom line is it's still her fault, and she really doesn't deserve any sympathy. Yeah, we're all human, and we all make mistakes, some with horrible results, but I don't know a lot of cases where people feel sorry for the person responsible for their child's death.

She's going to live with this for the rest of her life, and that's sad, too... sadder still is that her son won't live any of those days, have any dreams or regrets, etc. Perhaps if mom just took that split second to look behind her.

-12 ( +1 / -13 )

smithinjapan: " but the bottom line is it's still her fault, and she really doesn't deserve any sympathy."

I'm glad I come from the belief that everyone deserves sympathy and comfort in times like this. As a result I will continue to pray for the mother.

7 ( +8 / -1 )

It's impossible to pay full attention to a child and do the myriad other things we have to do. The mother would have had to have them both out of the car for the lift controls to operate. The mothers attention would have had to have been on the controls at least momentarily. Kids don't take long to dissapear and this one has clearly found his way into the mechanism.

There's a lot of blame being placed on the mother here. However, as an equipment designer, if its accept that a mother and small child may have to use the equipment you have to accept that kids can and do wander off. As Basroll has already pointed out, it would seem that nothing on the machine stopped any foreign object getting into the mechanism. For example, dock leveller machinery has plates and barriers so workers can't trap their limbs in the lifting equipment. Presses and other machinary will have a safety shut off when objects cross a beam of light or trip wire. It's clear there is no safety shut of on the parking lift, or if there is it doesn't function.

The mother is unlikely to be to blame here. Is the child the victim of a cost saving measure? Has the manufacturer or building developer simply omitted safety equipment to keep costs down?

I hope the investigators take a good look at the manufacturers and developers.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Kevin: "I'm glad I come from the belief that everyone deserves sympathy and comfort in times like this. As a result I will continue to pray for the mother."

How about praying for the child instead.

-6 ( +1 / -7 )

hoserfella: "unbelievable the posters here who "need more information", and don't want to "assume anything". Just more evidence that people today are totally afraid to take on or assign responsibility to anything or anyone. A 4 year-old child doesn't suddenly escape from a car without the parent noticing. Thats not malice, its just pointing out the painfully obvious."

No kidding. Evidently, though, a number of posters on here feel that the mother was so obviously mentally incapable of perception that the child leaving the car could not possibly have been noticed. Door opening, slamming shut.... nah... who'd of noticed that? And who would have noticed the kid leaving his booster seat? (my guess, there wasn't one). Obviously he did it with such stealth to fool the mother that it cannot possibly be her fault for not noticing his stealth... well, until he got crushed thereafter. Tasteless, I'm sorry, but you get the gist -- people who feel pity for this woman's suffering is one thing, feeling pity for her action (or neglect) is something else.

I wish she would see jail time for a few years to reflect on her negligence. My guess is she won't.

-5 ( +2 / -7 )

To all the people thumbing me down, let's just say "shou ga nai, ne". I do honestly hope basroil's suggestions are taken into account so as to help prevent this kind of thing in the future when mom's are too busy to notice their kids.

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

Unless it's common practice to operate these car lift things with people still in the car, of course the mother knew the child was not in the car. In every version of these things I've seen, all passengers have to leave the vehicle before the driver drives it onto the platform. LIkely the mother removed the child from the car, stood him a safe distance from the doors and told him to stay there...and he didn't. Maybe in the past he had always done as he was told, and this once he didn't.

9 ( +9 / -0 )

We're all human and capable of error, and more importantly, if there's a way for kids to get into trouble, they will find it.

Any risk assessment for equipment in a public place would highlight unprotected moving machinery as a hazard. Pinching, trap and crush injury are well understood concepts. That children under 6 have no sense of danger is a well understood concept. That children will explore small enclosed spaces is well understood. That a human being cannot operate heavy machinery and conduct childcare with 100% efficiency is again quite a well understood concept. I also feel quite confident in saying that I believe the equipment manufacturer and the developer would understand young families are likely to use the parking lift.

If the manufacturer and developer are relying on a user to press the stop button in case of trouble, they have ignored the basic hierarchy of control. Under normal circumstances, where they can, a manufacturer is expected to install engineering controls rather than rely on knowledge, particularly a stressed end users knowledge. The only reason to exclude physical or automatic barriers on this machinery would be to reduce cost and you can expect any developer to look to maximise their return by reducing overhead. The engineering controls I mentioned can be omitted and have no effect on the look of the development and the apparent operation of the machinery.

If the investigators find no safety system on the lift, then expect the investigation to broaden, if it hasnt already.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

RIP little one! I'm so sorry your parents did not have any common sense. Its ok to hold kids hands won't hurt your image to care and be a good parent.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

It is definitely bad engineering. Better design would have prevented this. Maybe the elevator was not meant to be self service. But passenger elevators have put more and more safety into the design. Car elevators seems to be similar to passenger elevators of the 1920s. There should have been an emergency stop. But I'm sure they will look at putting improvements in place after a session of gomenasai from the manufacturer. I would not blame the parents. Small kids are geniuses at disappearing from sight and getting into trouble.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

ka_chan Jul. 25, 2012 - 06:28AM JST I would not blame the parents. Small kids are geniuses at disappearing from sight and getting into trouble.

I blame the parents. 4 years old kids cannot make decisions. Parents has to protect their safety and they have to be aware of the surroundings all the time.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Japanese design concentrated mostly on fashion, trends and the appearance of "comfort". There is little in the way of functional design. I live in my fourth Japanese apartment, none of which are as functional as my dad's log house I helped to build when I was 14.

There are lot of good suggestions in comments on design that would have saved this boy. Their implementation, however, would cost more and might even (gasp!!) reduce comfortability!

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

my stomach turned around when i read this, it must have been a horrible dead, RIP little one

0 ( +0 / -0 )

smithinjapanJul. 25, 2012 - 12:59AM JST

I do honestly hope suggestions are taken into account so as to help prevent this kind of thing in the future when mom's are too busy to notice their kids.

Sadly, this is Japan, and suggestion boxes dump the paper straight into a prepaid yellow burnables bag. The way things were done is they way they will continue to be done.

0 ( +5 / -5 )

The sad thing is I see so many kids still riding on their parents' lap. Seems like this kid wasn't buckled in. She would have parked then unbuckled the child seat. It's a bone head mistake that this woman will suffer for the rest of her life. Her life is destroyed. Hopefully she gets good counselling before another child. It's truly so sad to see an angel taken back so soon.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Never really want to hear about these accidents at all, to be honest.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Never really want to hear about these accidents at all, to be honest.

Neither do I. Having children myself I feel deeply saddened seeing even the headlines. But on another note, the elevated parking installations lack accident prevention systems: cameras and sensors. Period.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

But on another note, the elevated parking installations lack accident prevention systems: cameras and sensors. Period.

It seems pretty dumb to vote down an opinion suggesting we make parking systems safe to protect lives, especially those of children.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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