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9-month-old boy dies after being left in car by grandfather

53 Comments

A 9-month-old boy was found unconscious in the back of a car by his grandfather on Thursday and was rushed to the hospital but died soon after, police said.

According to police, Masuo Ichinose, 73, was driving his 2-year-old granddaughter and grandson Shota to nursery school on Thursday morning. Ichinose dropped the girl off but left Shota in the child seat directly behind the drivers seat and drove back home. "I really thought I had dropped both of them off," Ichinose told police. Shota was in the car for the next seven hours.

When he went to go pick the children up at 4:30 p.m., Ichinose was told that he had only dropped off one child that morning and suddenly realized he had left his grandson in the car. Both of Shota's parents work and the grandfather often took care of the children, driving them back and forth between school.

Ichinose had before only dropped one child off, and thus the school reportedly didn't notice anything unusual.

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Good grief. He must feel absolutely wretched.

RIP kid.

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RIP little boy, and I pity the poor grandfather, nothing malicious about this at all, just a tragic accident.

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that's really sad...

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You know, there are moves by some groups in the US to try to require automakers to develop and install some kind of "oops, don't forget the kid" technology in their cars...mostly tied to some sort of sensing device built into the child seat and/or seat belt. They have a point, I guess--the car will remind you with a buzzer if you leave the keys in the ignition, but not if you leave your child... but of course the technical and liability issues are more complex, and so far the automakers have not agreed to do anything.

Still, I can't imagine how people can be so distracted as to do this--though it seems to happen in the US and elsewhere as often as it does here in Japan.

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I really feel sorry for this old boy. He may seem ok, but many of his age are losing their marbles and forget things easily. Though it may seem ridiculous that he could forget about this young child, i have seen am elderly member of my family suddenly do things out of the ordinary.

I feel sorry for him, he must feel so guilty and he lost his grandson. I hope he doesnt get hassle from the old bill. He needs emotioanl help and therapy, but that is not so easy to get here.

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Tragic....How does anyone recover after something like this?

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Agree, tragic, and feel sorry for the guy. Not easy growing old and I don't think he realised that he had a memory problem.

Said that the same can happen at a much younger age.

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Damn... this is just all around sad; the old guy clearly didn't intend to forget, and of course did not intend to kill his grandchild. On top of that he's going to have to live with the death and any subsequent negligence charges, AND of course the inevitable reaction from the child's parents; probably estrangement. Needless to say, it's absolutely tragic for the little boy (RIP), and the parents.

Like I said, all around tragic.

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At first I thought this was another pachinko stupidity, but this is indeed very sad. My thoughts are with the family.

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The boys parents are going to resent him bitterly, it may well destroy their family!

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sk4ek, yes, Kids and Cars. I heard of them. You don't see much of these happening in Japan (I mean forgetting your child in car, not leaving them deliberately when going to pachinko), but if putting an extra gadget can really save lives, maybe Japan should do the same thing by law.

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a simple trick is to put a doll in each seat. when the kids are in both seats both dolls are placed in the front seat.

Too late for this poor boy.

Why did the parents allow a 73 year old to transport the kid? What a terrible way to die for the child, abandoned and forgotten.

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So he doesnt get arrested? Whats a 73 year man doing looking after infants? Craziness.

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pointofview at 12:12 PM JST - 4th June

So he doesnt get arrested? Whats a 73 year man doing looking after infants? Craziness.

Sorry to be honest but having elderly taking care of infants and children is embedded in the japanese culture. Nothing you can do about that. Shouganai na!

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Hrm,here many posters whine that more grandparents should look after kids to allow their parents to work full-time(women going back to work, etc).

Something happens and it turns into a bad idea.

Head is spinning.

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RIP Little one.

Simply tragic.

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So sad...but i believe the idea to put a certain device so children wont be left in the car is a great idea and should be taken very seriously, this happens way to often. This isn't something that should be taken lightly. I feel sorry for the older man, i pray for him and his family..

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Sorry to be honest but having elderly taking care of infants and children is embedded in the japanese culture. Nothing you can do about that. Shouganai na!

No I can`t but he should be held accountable. Culture or not. And another thing, the overuse of the word shoganai is doing nothing positive for your country. It shows laziness and cowardly behaviour.

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Zenny- I agree.. It is not a bad thing that grandparents helping out. I don't have my parents or my husband's parents living nearby, so I often wish I had help from grandparents.

It isn't good when parents leave kids with grandparents all the time, but I don't see anything wrong about grandpa taking his grandkids to daycare. I had to say, though.. that the age of grandparents matters here, and I don't know how old is too old to drive. In France where one of my parents is from, old people drive all the time, sometimes people in their 80s still drive. I've lived in the U.S. as well and there, I saw old people driving all the time and taking their families/small kids out was not something people would point out unless that person has mental/physical issue.

I feel so bad for this grandpa. It was probably a pure joy for him to help out his daughter/son (the parents) and being a part of his grandkids' every-day life. It is such a tragedy.

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Fishy.

I get you. Me and my son live in Tokyo, his surviving grandparents are in Nagoya.

Glad that they will take him over the summer school-holiday, as I will get a break I need.

Really is a case by case scenario some 80yrs olds are very sharp and alert mentally others aren't.

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Really is a case by case scenario some 80yrs olds are very sharp and alert mentally others aren't.

Agree!!

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Sorry to be honest but having elderly taking care of infants and children is embedded in the japanese culture.

Sorry, but this is absolutely ludicrous. It's embedded in the human DNA, and embraced by about every culture since time im memomarium.

Moderator: Back on topic please. Posts that do not refer to the story will be removed.

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The school still should have asked "where is her brother today?" then he would have ran back out to the car to get him. I check my car seat as soon as i get out of the car to make sure i did drop my son off at school. Seen this happen to many times.

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wow... I hope this poor kids parents feel happy with their choice of free childcare. Jesus ... a hoikuen is as low as 2-man a month for 2 kids.

The parents are absolute idiots for leaving their children in the care such an old dude. Our Ojisan is about the same age, however I just dont leave him alone with the kiddies unless the much younger ba-chan is there to supervise.

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Shufu- Price differs depending on the parents' annual income. People complain when it's expensive, but I guess some people complain or think it's bad when it's cheap, too? True that the daycare people should have asked the grandpa what happened to the baby boy even if there were times when he only dropped off one kid. Daycare people should ask questions like "he's not here today because he's sick?"

Also, I'd like to note that this grandpa was only transporting the kids to/from daycare, he wasn't babysitting for hours while the kids parents or grandma being there with him. I know many people in their 70s who are still very much capable of taking care of small kids, not running around with them, but just to transport children, they can be a good help, so blaming the parents or this grandpa on taking care of the kids/transporting them is not something I would do.

If the law doesn't punish this grandpa for being forgetful, I am sure he feels more guilty as anyone here on this forum can imagine.

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more guilty than anyone here on this forum can imagine, is what I was going to say.

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I fully agree the grandparent should be held accountable,never implied otherwise.

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shufu at 01:35 PM JST - 4th June

wow... I hope this poor kids parents feel happy with their choice of free childcare. Jesus ... a hoikuen is as low as 2-man a month for 2 kids.

Umm shufu....correct me if I am wrong, but I assumed that a "nursery" was English for hoikuen or something along those lines.. Which is where the grandpa was taking the kids. He was not taking care of them all day long. I don't know where in there that it shows information that the nursery was free or how you assumed the parents were getting free daycare but it juuust a hunch on my part that perhaps you didn't really take in what you were reading. He was merely transporting the children to a nursery where they take care of children.

Unfortunately, grandpa committed a horrible screw-up that will never be reversed. He probably loved those kids like mad. It is very possible that he never had a problem before and this was a first time mistake. And the worst possible one.

And for those of you on here implying that elderly people should never be left alone with infants or shouldn't drive, etc. I hope you remember that when you are old and I hope that you are on the receiving end of the very same attitudes. Everyone is different and for some, being 73 would not be an issue with regard to driving skills, memory, etc. For others, being 73 could mean being as frail as a dry stick and having the worst memory in the world. It all depends on the individual. With this man, it is possible he never showed signs of poor memory and everything was fine until that day. We don't know. And there is no indication in this story that he was ever left alone with his grandchildren other than the drive to the nursery each day.

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peachy871- THANK YOU!! That's esactly my thought as well!

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And just for the record...yes he should be held accountable. I feel for him and for the whole family but anyone who made such a mistake would be held accountable no matter how badly they feel about it.

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And just for the record...yes he should be held accountable. I feel for him and for the whole family but anyone who made such a mistake would be held accountable no matter how badly they feel about it.

agree, and i think he probably feels better to get punished for the terrible mistake. he probably feels guilty as hell and if i were him, i would not just forgive myself by people around saying "it's okay". i feel very sad for him and for the family.

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The grandfather seems to have a lapse of memory of whether he dropped only one or both of the children off. It doesn't look to be intentional. It's a tragedy.

If it was common that he dropped both children off at the nursery then why didn't an employee inquiry the whereabouts of Shota, the 9-month-old baby at the time?

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skip-

why didn't an employee inquiry the whereabouts of Shota, the 9-month-old baby at the time?

they say that the grandpa had dropped off just one kid (the 2-year-old girl) before so they thought he just brought one child that day -- though they still really SHOULD HAVE asked about Shota.. The grandpa forgot about the baby, the daycare people didn't ask about the baby... 2 bad things resulted with the worst ending. RIP shota..

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This is very sad situation and for sure, OjiChan will carry this tragedy to his grave. One can assume the 2 year old might have been sitting in the front seat and baby in the back seat. Whatever the case, as someone mentioned, if he was taking the kids to nursery everyday - the staff should not have taken it for granted he was bringing only one child for the day. It should be part of their training, at all levels, to question the unexected. As more and more people rely on nurseries for child care, and the need for such facilities increase daily, the safety training for staff should be increased and strictly enforced. I am surprised how often I see Nursery School buses loaded with kids, often gathered at the back window of the bus, and not safely belted into their seats. Often times, the bus driver is the only staff on the bus responsible for a gaggle of kids.

There is no need for us to discuss this tragedy any further. I am sure that Grandfather is totally devistated.

OkiTaroSan

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So the car was parked in the sun I guess. Doesnt take long for it too heat up inside to a lethal temperature even if its not so hot at the moment. 24c max yesterday in Nagasaki. Happens all the time in Australia. Mothers leave their children in the car with the windows up just to go in and out of the shops.Doesnt take long. Poor old man must be totally distraught. Got to feel for him too.

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RIP lad.... I do know many of the old timers in my hood are already buzzing at 4PM....and look rather senile- Im just saying. 73 is way to old for infant care and I do feel for the old fella and the fam.

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Um, the guy doesn't remember if he dropped of the kids but yet is allowed to drive and his family trusts him with kids. Welcome to the future of Japan with old people causing problems such as car accidents and the detah of kids by mistake.

How on earth do you not notice a kid in the back when driving? When you get in the car, you would have seen the car seat.

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The school still should have asked "where is her brother today?" then he would have ran back out to the car to get him. I check my car seat as soon as i get out of the car to make sure i did drop my son off at school. Seen this happen to many times.

C'mon, let's not pass the buck onto the school. Zero culpability. It is an absolute tragedy - 73 year olds - likely with some memory lapses - should NOT be entrusted with babies. The parents will live with this on their conscience forever. RIP little boy.

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My parent are both 78 years old. The care for their great-grandchild while his parents work. Nothing to do with age, has to do with if people that age are still sharp or not. My dad is getting to forgetting things and my mom does not leave him alone with the baby unless she's there.

I really feel bad for the child and grandpa. Also I think the daycare dropped the ball on this one as well.

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'fishy' I completely agree. People forget things, and i've read that happens the older you get. I'm sure he feels horrible for this. It's tragic this happened.

'peachy' Here here! I couldn't say it better myself. What happened to the days when grandparents were lookked fondly upon for knowledge and care of the grandchildren? It really does depend on the individual. Obviously the parents thought this person capable of doing it and for a while he did fine. It just happened that one time he screwed up and it was it turned out awry. I feel bad for everyone involved, it was an honest mistake. It's just unfortunate that the price was this high for it.

I think the people at the nursery should have asked why the child was not there. It happened once but a safe reasurrance would be nice. It's not their fault either. As 'skipbeat' said "it's a tragedy". We also don't know how many children this place gets everyday for them to remember themselves. They could have been very busy. Don't get me wrong I may say that I don't think its the nurserys fault but perhaps this tragedy will help install some sort of program where they are trained to be more thorough with the children brought it and asking that question might save other lives even it its just one life. I don't think we have a right to point fingers at anyone. I'm sure the grandfather feels horrible and will take this guilt to the grave, he is suffering knowing that the life of that child was in his hands and he messed up. Same with the pointing fingers at the nursery. Is it their their fault that the man forgot? Again it's a tragedy. A child paid the price for mistakes made. I don't believe anyone should blame anyone. It WILL only cause more greif and pain and no healing.

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It's a sad tragedy and it does happen all the time. It's also not restricted to the elderly. There was a case here of a father who did the same thing. He was no less devastated when he realized what he had done, but he also was no less guilty of negligent homicide.

Young kids will often fall asleep to the droning of the car. By the time the parent/guardian gets home, something else has taken over their attention and the extended silence from the back seat causes them to forget someone is back there.

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Why are both parents working! If Japan had more self respect, they would let the mother take a vacation from work for a year or 2, and this kind of idiotic accident would not happen. RIP baby boy.

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Regardless this is very sad and will likely destroy the family relations.. also, unfortunately, parents who lose a kid very often end up going separate ways due to problems handling the sorrow in different ways - eventually resulting in more hurt to the other kid

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This thing happens a lot at his age. I hope everyone is made aware of this so they avoid relying on someone past 70 to drop off their kids. It's different for each person, but that's around the age a lot of grandparents have total memory loss.

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A baby and a 2 year old in daycare? Why have children at all if you're going to fob them off on the grandfather, who shouldn't have that kind of responsibility @ 73. I think there is a whole lotta blame to be spread around in this scenario.

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he shouldnt be driving at 73. avoidable tragedy

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@DenDon

I don't agree with that, I know some people over 80 who drive better than many of the younger generations. What is needed is to add memory tests to driver licence gaining, and additional tests for keeping it ever 5-10 years.

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no. over 70 should be a test every 2 years at most.

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elbudamexicano at 11:56 PM JST - 4th June Why are both parents working!

Hmmm...perhaps to make money to support their children? Just a hunch. Unfortunately not every family can afford the luxury of a stay-at-home parent these days and pay for the upbringing of a brood. It is ridiculously expensive in Japan to raise a child, let alone 2 or more.

If Japan had more self respect, they would let the mother take a vacation from work for a year or 2, and this kind of idiotic accident would not happen. RIP baby boy.

Full time workers are entitled to a full year of parental leave, by law. Perhaps the mother had reasons to return to the workforce before the 12 months were up (i.e. financial...parental leave does not cover full salary), perhaps she had started her parental leave a little early for some reason so the 12 months was up while the baby was still less than a year old. Or perhaps she only works part time. None of those details are apparent in the story. And for the record...parental leave is in no way, a vacation.

A baby and a 2 year old in daycare? Why have children at all if you're going to fob them off on the grandfather,

Well, firstly, they were not fobbed off on the grandfather (as you noted when you asked why the kids were in daycare), he was merely transporting them to the daycare. Secondly, why is it wrong for working people to have children? The world is an expensive place. Many couples simply cannot afford to have children and have a parent stay at home. Some can, but that number is decreasing rapidly due to societal and economic situations.

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peachy871, you are so polite.

What I would say to a person reading this tragedy and come up with some stupid comment about why do parents work, would be just... "What a stupid comment".

Although not responsible, I would still think the nursery could have talked with the grandfather about what happened to the 9-months old.

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TSRnow...LOL...thanks! I just felt the need to say more than "What a stupid comment"...sometimes folks just need to have it spelled out to them as to what exactly was stupid. ; )

Yes, the nursery is in no way responsible but just a simple "Oh, is little Hiro not joining us today?" would have made all the difference. But then again, having worked at a nursery in the past, it comes to mind that perhaps it was routine for Grandpa to bring the 2 year old in from the car first, then bring in the infant afterward. Perhaps the staff never had the opportunity to question where the baby was after he dropped off the sister as they were used to him going back out for the baby. That particular morning, it tragically slipped his mind and he never came back in,so the staff figured the baby wasn't coming to school that day. If nothing had ever been amiss before, they would have had no reason to worry about the fact that he left after dropping off the oldest child.

There are just so many variable and possibilities to this situation that really, no one on here can pass any sort of judgement. The whole story is not reported. Simple as that.

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@peachy871,

what's with all the assumptions regarding the order in which he brings the children into the nursery?

The story says that he normally only dropped off only one child. By Japanese law, that right there justifies the man's mistake.

When I read the story, it appears as though the boy is new to the nursery, in which case, considering all the paperwork needed for a child to enter a nursery, the daycare should have thought "where is little Hiro today?".

The burden is of course not on the nursery, but can you imagine the difference there would be in the outcome had the nursery staff been at all concerned with the boy's whereabouts; lord knows if my son missed a day there'd surely be phone calls.

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Not assuming...just being hypothetical. There are probably lots of factors at play that none of us really know about. Too many on here were just too eager to condemn in a situation that we don't have all the facts for. Just saying they could be right and they could be way off base. Sorry about missing that last sentence in the article above (am almost positive it wasn't there when I read it originally, but my brain might be hitting old age faster than the rest of me!) And you are completely correct: the school is in no way responsible but just the same, I am sure they are all wishing they had just even mentioned the baby's name to the grandfather. I am sure every party involved, especially the grandfather, is just sick over the fact that something so small could have made such a huge difference.

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