The 37-year-old driver of a bus that crashed into two trucks parked at a service area in Oyabe, Toyama Prefecture, early Monday morning, suffered from sleep apnea, it was revealed Tuesday.
The driver, Kazuya Obata, and a 48-year-old male passenger, Yoshihiro Ono, died when the bus crashed into the trucks at around 5:10 a.m. Ten other passengers and one of the truck drivers suffered injuries and were taken to hospital, Fuji TV reported.
Shortly before the accident occurred, some passengers told police they saw the bus driver nodding off. One passenger was quoted by Fuji TV as saying he called out to the driver, "Hey, wake up!" However, there was no response.
According to police, footage from surveillance cameras at the service area where the trucks were parked showed the bus was speeding. It drifted from the main road and collided into the guard rail 600 meters before knocking the first truck aide and then hitting the second truck. The bus driver's seat was completely crushed by the impact.
Japanese media reported that the president of the bus operator, Miyagi Transportation Corp, said that Obata had been diagnosed with sleep apnea last year. He had been driving overnight express buses for the company since 2011.
On Sunday night's bus service from Sendai to Kaga Onsen hot springs resort in Ishikawa Prefecture, there was a 53-year-old substitute driver. The two drivers took turns every three hours. Obata was 2 1/2 hours into his third turn at the wheel when the accident occurred, police said.© Japan Today