national

Father dies sheltering 9-year-old daughter from blizzard

77 Comments

The requested article has expired, and is no longer available. Any related articles, and user comments are shown below.

© 2013 AFP

©2021 GPlusMedia Inc.

77 Comments
Login to comment

my goodness who would walk in the snow that much would have been better off staying in the truck trying to keep warm while waiting out the snow i think

-8 ( +7 / -14 )

This is so incredibly sad.. i hope there is someone who can take care of this poor little girl.

14 ( +14 / -1 )

that is so horrible, the poor girl... I hope she'll be ok...

8 ( +8 / -0 )

@Guza!

You should read the other related article on JT. There were a mother and three kids who stayed in their car and died due to carbon monoxide poisoning.

It's easy to criticize after the fact.

7 ( +14 / -7 )

Painful.

I hate to hear people talk about the Samurai spirit for nothing, but, if the spirit is all about saving one's beloved ones, this dad was a real samurai guy. In such a hard way as this, he became an eternal saviour and hero to his daughter.

I don't know if it's a big ask, but is the system good enough to ensure people's safety???

8 ( +9 / -2 )

They probably would have died in the car, and I imagine the father saw that coming. In the end he did what he had to do to save his daughter. In hindsight maybe it was a day she should have stayed at home and even he from work if that were possible.

A family of four (mother, three kids I think it was) died from carbon monoxide poisoning after the fumes from the exhaust (car running for the heat) were trapped in by surrounding snow and ended up inside the car.

8 ( +10 / -2 )

Bad decision or not he was able to save his daughter and in my mind is a HERO!

24 ( +27 / -3 )

The pair had last been heard from at 4 p.m. on Saturday, after fisherman Okada picked his daughter up from a school where she was being looked after while he was at work.

...and what about other students, how did they reach home safely? Although this story sounds tragic, it was avoidable if school was closed due to heavy snow.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

This probably could have been avoided if his company let him out of work early because of the weather.

0 ( +5 / -5 )

He is a hero for saving his daughter, no doubt about that.

For future reference, if the blizzard is bad, stay in your car and turn on the engine infrequently and just for a short time. To keep warm, move as much as you can: sit ups, changing seats, rolling around like a dog on newly mown grass.

You might - maybe - want to get out and clear the snow from around the exhaust pipe; when you get back in your car, you'll feel warm. But always keep one hand touching your car so you don't get lost in the blizzard - very possible.

If the blizzard is as bad as they say in this article (109 k/h winds) your car is your best protection.

I hope the girl manages her grief of losing both parents in such a short time.

16 ( +17 / -1 )

Very sad but extremely noble. No need to armchair quarterback his decisions, a km from home, I would have done same thing. RIP

11 ( +13 / -2 )

He did the right thing at the end and died a hero but, if we are honest, he made a big mistake.

I would never have left that truck.

He had a phone and had already called to explain the situation. Just stay put until help arrives.

Now his daughter is an orphan... So sad.

4 ( +8 / -4 )

Sad story, but why did he stop? If you live in a snowbound area you must know never to stop in a blizzard regardless. They would have been better off just staying in the truck. Sad!

-2 ( +5 / -7 )

Very sad news. This girl was loved very much and I am sure her father can rest peacefully having been able to protect his little girl.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Thinking about cars getting caught in blizzards... as has been noted, the risk is the exhaust pipe getting blocked as the car is smothered with snow and filling the vehicle with lethal exhaust gas.

How about carrying a flexible length of hose in the car at all times?

When the car gets into a blizzard, attach the hose to the exhaust pipe... should take seconds. If there was some kind of clip on top of the car to hold the hose aloft, people could take refuge in the car, switching the engine (and heater) on and off to preserve fuel.

2 ( +6 / -4 )

Tragic.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Sad for sure, and some of these deaths were no doubt unpreventable, but.............

I am also sure some deaths were preventable, people need to stay put indoors where ever they are & wait storms out, DONT try to go home! Stay home from work, stay home from school if you know a big storm is happening or predicted too.

Hell I live in north Chiba & I ALWAYS have a sleeping bag in my car & one in the wifes too in case of car trouble, got a few oatmeal bars as well for food. And people need to be taught about CO & exhaust fumes, especially people who live in areas with lots of snow

People shiould KNOW this in advance. I probably get neged but hopefully some of you will neg me & then go buy a sleeping bag to keep in your car.

6 ( +9 / -3 )

****It was hurting me inside to read this kind of tragedy, but what we can only do is to find way not to happen this again. Can the government do some building shelters like along the highways of Hokkaido so incase of snow storm people traveling have a shelter to go? please, please give importance on this matter.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

My God! A father dies protecting his daughter and people are still "Why didnt he?" "Why did he?" "He shoulda" "he coulda"....we werent there. We dont know. Confusion because of hypothermia? Irrationality in a dangerous situation? Pure fear for his daughters life having already lost his wife? So easy to sit and speculate when we are not the ones caught out in it.

RIP Dad. You are a hero in my eyes and Im sure your daughters eyes too. My prayers are with both of you today.

14 ( +19 / -6 )

Such a sad story, I wonder what the future helds for the girl, are there extended family members to take care of her?

4 ( +4 / -0 )

This is sad and beautiful at the same time. It reminded me that people can can be greater is spirit than our fragile physical form. What a hero. This sacrifice is the greatest show of love.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

My question is, why were the schools still open if the weather is so bad?? Oh I remember, you are not allowed to skip school or work unless everybody else does.

0 ( +5 / -5 )

He ran into a drift. There was zero visibility, and some of the drifts were 6 ft high. It was a kei truck, it might not have been warm, or he might have run out of gas. It was so bad out that no one could search for them.

You can also have the best intentions to keep going out to shovel out the exhaust pipe, and fall asleep.

It's a tragedy, and you don't know what you'd do until you're faced with the same conditions yourself.

8 ( +8 / -0 )

@Disillusioned

but why did he stop?

According to the news on TV, he had practically no gas left.

As for his sacrifice, it is extremely heart-warming, a noble, unselfish act. Unfortunately, his daughter is now alone. I hope she has relatives who will love and take good care of her. RIP otousan, your sacrifice should be admired by all.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

Very sad. Poor girl. Agree with above. If the conditions were that bad, schools and businesses should have been closed. Borscht. Your advice is sound. Canadian? Minus 6 is not that cold. Staying in the truck would have taken away the wind chill factor.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

A very sad event and my thoughts are with this young girl and the family who've suffered a tragic loss. As a father myself I can understand and commend him for giving the ultimate sacrifice to protect his precious daughter and she will grow up knowing how much he loved her.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

According to the news on TV, he had practically no gas left.

Yeah, well, there you have it. You have to be prepared. I've travelled extensively through the deserts of Australia, both for work and pleasure, and you just don't go unprepared. I am sorry, as harsh as it sounds, if this guy was a Hokkaido local he should have been well aware of the risks and prepared for them. At least keep gas in your car! Gees!

1 ( +7 / -6 )

The saddest thing ever.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

This man is nothing short of an amazing hero, he thought nothing of himself and only protecting his daughter, it's people like him that should be remembered and talked about not useless people like american celebs, korean celebs or political people like obama or putin, just an average everyday man that did everything he could to make sure his daughter could survive

4 ( +8 / -3 )

This is such a sad story. This is also why we cancel school during bad weather.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

I wish more people would be more loving to their little ones like they were. I hope she will have a loving home and that she would live a long life.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Incredibly sad! Father is a hero like all fathers should be. I am sure she will grow up knowing how much her father loved her. I feel so sorry that he will miss the further growing up of his child. He has given her life twice.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

No thats love! So sad the family looses a loving person.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

tragic but if i lived in hokkaido, i'd be sure to have a couple of sleeping bags, candles and some food and water in my car and i would never leave the car. this is always a possibility but its survivable with some preparation.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Mikio Okada is my hero. Rest in peace Mr. Okada. http://www.fnn-news.com/news/headlines/articles/CONN00241589.html

4 ( +4 / -0 )

This is a very moving story.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Daddy, I will miss you.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

So easy to sit and speculate when we are not the ones caught out in it.RIP Dad. You are a hero in my eyes

I don't agree with this 'He's a hero and leave it at that' mentality.

With that kind of thinking we would never learn anything and the same tragedies would be repeated again and again. It's a good idea to think about what to do in a similar situation.

Sure, he did the right thing at the end... that's heroic.

But he made a big mistake to leave the truck. He had a phone and had called for help. As someone mentioned above, the wind chill factor and lack of visibility would have been terrible.

Stay put and wait for rescue.

What I have learned from this is never leave a car in a blizzard and, in areas prone to blizzards, keep sleeping bags, hokkairo and snack bars in the car.

This tragedy didn't have to happen. It's really really sad but let's hope people learn from it and it isn't repeated.

4 ( +8 / -4 )

So easy to have all kinds of "he shoud have done this and that" advice after the fact. Now that this tragic incident had became a precedent that made it onto all the TV news programs ,no doubt more people will take some more precautions in the future. That doesn,t change the fact this father took what he obviously thought was the best course of action in such severe situation at that time...yes, perhaps he made a mistake and if they had stayed in the truck they could have survived ,,perhaps not. None of us knows, we weren,t there. I still take my hat off to him as an example of a loving father and a human being who is a hundred times more worthy of respect than the useless TV personalities and such that young people are often told to look up to these days. Respect!

3 ( +5 / -2 )

OMG, as a dad of a daughter I'm gutted to read this news. :-(

What a dad - giving up everything to protect his child..

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Very sad. I wonder why he left the truck, why he go the crazy idea of taking off his clothes. That's weird what he did. He is not from Okinawa. he had seen snow before.

as temperatures plunged to minus 6 Celsius.

That's not so cold. I can't get the data for Hokkaido, but I know that in my hometown, in March, there are under zero like 40% of the time. So there, that maybe 80%. That means people go out and take even take the babies out at such a temperature. With proper clothes, and if you move reasonably, that's not an issue. Now, if you get wet or fall asleep...This man died because he got buried in the snow without his jacket.

So easy to have all kinds of "he shoud have done this and that" advice after the fact.

No, it's important to discuss it, so when that happens to you, you can decide for a better option.

There were a mother and three kids who stayed in their car and died due to carbon monoxide poisoning.

Because she kept the engine on to get warm from heating no ? They tell you to never do that a driving school, don't they ? Otherwise a car is a shelter, warmer, like an igloo. When I was a kid, we had an accident during a sudden snow tempest at the start of night. And I think that happens to thousands of persons every Winter. Most get no problems. At worse, a few frostbites.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Many great points of survival are shared on here. And I'm sure some of the channels are doing the same as we speak. Watch tomorrow's breakfast TV and there'll be some clowns with worse ideas telling you what to do.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

FGS, block all the roads on a heavy blizzard day! Ban them from going out, no matter what! Only the emergency cases should be allowed to go out with proper assistance from the state. Make a better system! No one wants to see this sort of thing any more. I don't want to see more heroes and heroines like him!

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

A HERO BY ANY DEFINITION.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

Such sad news... Maybe the first article I've read about a good parent on JapanToday. One less hero in the world. RIP.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

I wish we would be allowed to adopt her and bring her to Hawaii so she would never have to be in snow again.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Rest in Peace! A role model for all Fathers! May your daughter grow up healthy and safe!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Tragic as this is, it is a refreshing change to read about someone who was a loving parent, instead of the ceaseless litany of child abuse and cruelty we seem to get on this site.

Compare this article with this one: http://www.japantoday.com/category/crime/view/man-arrested-for-shaking-6-month-old-daughter-to-death

The wrong man is dead.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

So sad, a perfect example of why you should keep emergency supplies in your vehicle for occasions like this.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

@SauloJpn:

Bad decision or not he was able to save his daughter and in my mind is a HERO!

I definitely agree!

Though without her mother or her father, who will look after the poor girl? I hope that she has friends or other family members to take her in.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

What a loving father. Not only covering his daughter with his own coat, but to kneel over her and protect her from the cold, snow and wind? So brave! I just can't imagine what was going through his mind as he was getiing colder, more tired, more weaker, beginning to feel the numbness set in....brings tears to my eyes just thinking.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Well, he died a hero, and this is an extremely sad story, but he didn't need to die at all. He should have stayed in the truck. Granted, running the truck the whole time could result in carbon monoxide poisoning as Hide Suzuki points out, but even with the engine off (or on and off periodically) they wouldn't have been exposed to the 109 km/hr winds. And now this may sound a little sick, but when there are no other options in the cold you use direct body heat (naked flesh) to survive the cold (at least, as naked as possible, if you have covering like jackets). They could have done that in the truck, not outdoors.

Still a horrible story.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

If you live in snow country, you should always carry a few things in your car/truck; chains, blankets, water, food, shovel, and a first aid kit. That being said, I still think he would be alive today if he was let out of work earlier. He was picking up his daughter from school because he was working that day.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

I'm shocked by the number of people commenting that don't know about this situation. There's a number of great websites and official safety postings that talk about what you should do in cases like these. I feel really sad for the father and family. I think instead of building shelters, or putting this on a lack of structures, the government should instead just make some commercials or pamphlets on how to stay safe in various blizzard conditions. Coming from a place that reaches -40, I'm sure they can just translate another country's materials.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

instead of building shelters, or putting this on a lack of structures, the government should instead just make some commercials or pamphlets on how to stay safe in various blizzard conditions

The Hokkaido Government does this. Some are even in English for foreign tourists.

http://www.hkd.mlit.go.jp/topics/toukei/chousa/h20keikaku/e/e37_38.pdf

They even have one on how not to hit ezo deer.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Don't know why people try to advice what he should or shouldn't do. This was NOT his first winter storm, It was his 53rd winter and he experienced more than 53 storms before. This storm started to get deadly on afternoon. If not, who would go school and work? This northern Island is covered by snow for half of every year. People in this area knows what to do since their grand parent's era. Most of people said "I've never experienced this deadly storm in my life. and it became deadly all of the sudden". 9 human lives are taken in one night.

It was visibility of few feet, Cellular signal dead with some reason after his last successful call. His truck was low on fuel. wind gust 50mph in some point. He knew or not, there are only 3 firefighter/rescue crew in small rural town which was 2 miles from where he was. Also, he was fisherman who doesn't take power of mother nature lightly.

In last successful call, He said he will walk to relative's house with his daughter which is less than quarter of mile from where his truck was stuck.

Why won't you guys focus to what he did in his final few hours.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Terribly terribly tragic news.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Father = true hero! Father of the year....such a tragic story though

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

This northern Island is covered by snow for half of every year

The myth of the North. A large share of the population lives in areas that are snow-covered for less than three or four months.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

JT@LA "Why won't you guys focus to what he did in his final few hour". Because he died and quite likely needlessly. This discussion is trying to learn a few things from this tragedy.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Jt at LA: "Why won't you guys focus to what he did in his final few hours."

because it didn't need to be his final few hours and he could still be alive. He literally put himself and his daughter in that situation.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

My heart goes out to the girl, I wish I could help her.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

1st rule? never leave your stranded vehicle/plane etc

he did good, he protected her, he did his duty, hero

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

What a horrible way to die! RIP

0 ( +1 / -1 )

We love you Okada, welcome to paradize, Hope you are with you wife. Good life to your daugther. We love you Okada.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

because it didn't need to be his final few hours and he could still be alive. He literally put himself and his daughter in that situation.

You'd have know what to do though. You always do.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Please stock on food, water and fuel during winter, and watch the weather. Not worth it to venture out there. Better, yet, move if you can.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

While debating what was good what was bad, and while all agreeing that the father is a hero, please remember, at that instant, at that point, the father did not have another option. And as is known, the storm suddenly turned worse. And its just a kilometer from where the truck stopped. At that point, when the father did not have an option, and thought its safe to walk, obviously experienced in this type of storms before, he took a call and started walking in the snow.

Who told him it might get better? Where are the options that rescue is guaranteed? Cars sink in snow all the time, what to do then? The storm can get worse, he might get forever lost. The car would not move, so what does one do? Wait for death? In a trauma situation, people always think of the best possible option thinking worse might be just around the corner.

So he took a call and did what he thought is best. And he did save his daughter did he not?

Of course we learn lessons from each tragedy, but please note all tragedies are different and you have to take a decision. The storm passed and he was found, but there was no guarantee of that.

He is a hero, by every count in my book.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

They should blame the school. He didn't have to die if the girl didn't go to school in the first place because of bad weather. Who in the right mind would ask kids to go to school if there's a blizzard warning? They should have at least made the kids leave early. Just like stated by some people. This could have been prevented. The girl didn't have to go through it and live without parents.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

No need to worry about the girl. She will grow up super strong, as now she has a big reason to keep on living. To honor her father's memory by accomplishing her dreams.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

he was truly an amazing father, I wish I was lucky enough to have one like him

3 ( +4 / -1 )

And now this may sound a little sick, but when there are no other options in the cold you use direct body heat (naked flesh) to survive the cold (at least, as naked as possible, if you have covering like jackets). They could have done that in the truck, not outdoors.

Survival situations are not subject to the social mores that a normal situation demands. You do what you can to survive and to heck with what anyone else thinks.

I agree he PROBABLY would have been better off staying in the truck and huddling with his daughter even if the truck had run out of fuel, but that would depend on what type of truck it was. If the seats were open to the cargo area, their body heat would be sucked away much faster. They don't say what time he made that call to relatives, but I'm guessing they stayed in the truck until it became too cold to bear then made the call and tried to walk, but pushing through even knee-deep snow will exhaust you after only a short distance, and he was probably carrying his daughter through the deeper drifts which were much more than knee deep.

There is nothing more noble than a parent giving their life to save their child. Otou-san, Though some of your decisions probably could have been better, yokatta desu.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

He panicked. I feel very bad for the girl.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

RIP

0 ( +1 / -1 )

This man is nothing short of an amazing hero, he thought nothing of himself and only protecting his daughter, it's people like him that should be remembered and talked about not useless people like american celebs, korean celebs or political people like obama or putin, just an average everyday man that did everything he could to make sure his daughter could survive

2 ( +2 / -0 )

What an outstanding man in a horrendous situation. He made the ultimate sacrifice for his daughter and probably did what he thought was the best thing, we can all be armchair quarterbacks and say this and that, but dying to protect his daughter brought a tear to my eye. RIP dad.

I hope somebody gives his daughter the life she deserves.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

There is a Japanese (originally Chinese story) proverb referring to the power of parental love: "A pheasant in a burning field, a crane at night" (焼け野の雉子 夜の鶴) which refers to way in which a pheasant and a crane shielded their children from fire and cold even to the point of sacrificing themselves.

Yuji Aida in his book "The Structure of Japanese Consciousness" (1972) discusses the characteristic way in which Japanese protect their children from danger - be it cold, falling beams, advancing bears, cars or even trains - by facing their children and away from the danger - whereas Americans would face the danger leaving their children behind them. He claims that his facing in, back towards the outside, posture is repeated through-out Japanese culture.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Login to leave a comment

Facebook users

Use your Facebook account to login or register with JapanToday. By doing so, you will also receive an email inviting you to receive our news alerts.

Facebook Connect

Login with your JapanToday account

User registration

Articles, Offers & Useful Resources

A mix of what's trending on our other sites