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Two children die after car crashes into guardrail in Okayama

32 Comments

Two children were killed after the car they were traveling in suddenly crashed into a highway guardrail in Kibichuo, Okayama Prefecture, on Wednesday afternoon. According to police, Kumiko Itsushima, 38, of Okayama City, was driving home with her three children after visiting her parents when her car collided with the end of a guardrail.

Her 11-year-old son, Daiki, and 8-year-old daughter, Tomoka, died in the crash. Itsushima sustained minor injuries and her 5-year-old daughter, who was riding in the back seat behind her, was uninjured.

The accident occurred around 2:30 p.m. on a straight stretch of road with no visual obstructions. Police have not yet released any details on how the accident might have happened.

© News reports

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I just saw this news on tv. The guard rail entered through the left headlight area, came out in the foot area of the passenger seat and went strait through the car and out the back. The 11 year old was in the passenger seat and his 8 year old sister behind him.

It was absolutely awful!

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What a horrible way to go. This poor mother will never ever forget this. I really really hope she wasn't talking on or looking at her phone when this happened. Driving is for driving, pay attention. No reason to crash into a stationary object during daylight.

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That guardrail didn't do what it was supposed to do. There's something very wrong with the design if it's able to protrude like it did. Terrible.

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bamboohat, you don't have to be talking on a cellphone to be distracted with 3 children under 12 in a car. Of course she will never forget this- what an odd thing to say.

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How on earth did this happen? I can`t understand how she could crash into a stationary object in broad daylight either - Bamboohat is just speculating, but it is not an unreasonable speculation, given that people talk on cellphones whilst driving all the time (was nearly wiped out by one yesterday actually).

I also cant imagine what kind of guardrail would penetrate a car like that (ref bokudayos post).

I can`t even imagine how she must be feeling right now. I really hope those poor children went quickly and painlessly and knew nothing about it.

What a tragedy.

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Serious design failure is the only reason I can conceive for this to have happened.

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Not a design flaw. A design flaw is a seat belt that comes undone during a crash, or a bike chain that breaks under pressure. This is a design flaw like a tree on the side of the road is a design flaw. Guardrails like this open up all the time for road turnoffs. Granted they are slightly curved at the end, but you aren't supposed to ram into them at 100 KMP. If you stay on the road, where you are supposed to, then this wouldn't happen. The reason I said that I hoped she wasn't talking/looking at her cell was that would make it unbearably more painful to the mom to remember this as her fault. I hope it was some car malfunction, or an animal ran across the road, or something that she can at least someday hold herself blameless for this horrible accident.

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RIP little ones. Id say it's a design flaw, some of the guard rails I've seen scare me to death... I feel for the poor mother, more than likely a moments lapse in concentration, maybe a little one asked her a question... Damn but what a waste.

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I have been always surprised how peopel dare make three kids and raise them together! Even looking after one kid a big job to do! All risks are higher, including the risk of accident when you drive them all home by yourself!

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Oh. My. god. I have just seen the picture. For some reason it didn`t come up before. How completely and utterly horrible.

RIp those poor kids and my heart goes out to the family.

nedinjapan - absolutely with you on that one! My 3rd is due in 8 weeks and I have no idea how on earth I am going to cope!

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There's no design flaw here. Someday there will be a story on here about how a strong, rigid guardrail saved a family of five from plunging off a icy mountain road in the dead of night. Whatever the reason for this unfortunate crash, it was just bad luck.

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Serious guardrail design flaw. The ends of guardrails around here either descend into the ground, or terminate in a large energy-absorbing "bulb" of metal that has the sole purpose of preventing what happened here. The mother must be going crazy with grief now.

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The photos are brutal to look at, but remember the car hit the guard rail, not vice versa. The guard rail is not the flaw...sadly it`s driver error. A tragic story that I hope makes everyone more aware when we are all behind the wheel.

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Guard rails are designed like that everywhere in the world, and it did it's job. They are identical to the ones in the US as well. Unfortunately, it's a freak accident how it skimmed past the engine, through the firewall, and into the seats/children in the car.

I had first assumed the kids were not wearing seat belts, but from the pic, the front glass is in perfect condition, and that car would have stopped so incredibly fast, even a child with seatbelt on would be lucky to survive the sudden stopping effect and the tightness of the seatbelt around their little bodies. Very sad in-deed.

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Saw this on tv last night, was absolutely horrid. What peeved me off was the fact they had to zoom in on the blood splatters on the guard rail! And if there's a design flaw with anything I would say it's the car. A HUGE beast of a family car like that should be a lot stronger to withstand accidents. I mean that's the reason why everyone is told to buy them here right? Those poor kids!

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I feel for the mother. She made a mistake while driving it would appear. We don't know if maybe another car overtook her and she move over to let them pass or what, but this is terrible. People, stopped the blame games for a minute and just feel sorry for once in your lives.

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That guardrail didn't do what it was supposed to do.

Similar guardrails in N. America have mechanisms that redirect the metal beam away from the vehicle when the impact is head-on to the guardrail. It sounds like a pretty gruesome way to die. I hope they didn't suffer.

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Yes, I would also think that it could have been some mistake by the mother. With three children and having to make it on time, to get the kids ready for school etc etc maybe she would have temporarily lost her presence of mind. It could happen to anyone. Well in the present time, it would be worthwhile to think that even if you get it is alright. Japanese sense of punctuality is a little too much IMO. It is alright to get late sometimes.

Just yesterday saw a sight from my balcony: young mother with a child in the stroller, another kid walking beside the stroller, her suitcase on the other hand and the baby bag on top of that, was returning from a long trip I guess. Not easy I tell you. And why does it have to be this way? where is the father?

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The highway guardrail was erected too close to the road. Must be something wrong with the Japanese highway regulations governing installation of guardrails.

I never heard about this kind of accident in America, despite its population is much larger.

JapanToday, please let us know as soon as the police releases the details.

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Maybe not a design "flaw", but there is definitely room for design improvement. It could be as simple as guardrails I have seen in the states where the end flares away from the road.

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Tragic story. I only wish they could engineer out all the possibilities for bad drivers hitting things on a straight stretch of highway on a clear day.

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Here's the story with additional photos from the local media. The second link is a short video news clip. http://www.47news.jp/localnews/okayama/2009/09/post_20090923211549.html http://svr.sanyo.oni.co.jp/news_s/news/d/2009092319253650

Looks like from the video that accident site had recently been under construction and that the guardrail hadn't been completed or extended far enough. The driver (mother) is naturally at fault for hitting the guardrail in the first place but no guardrail should ever begin/end abruptly without some sort of safety design as this one evidently did. If the guardrail had been designed/completed properly this should have been a non-fatal traffic accident. Truly a shame.

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Here's the story with additional photos from the local media. The second link is a short video news clip. http://www.47news.jp/localnews/okayama/2009/09/post20090923211549.html http://svr.sanyo.oni.co.jp/newss/news/d/2009092319253650

Neither of those links work.

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everybest

http://www.47news.jp/localnews/okayama/2009/09/post_20090923211549.html

http://svr.sanyo.oni.co.jp/news_s/news/d/2009092319253650

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How horrible! I can't imagine the grief and guilt the mother must be feeling. And the girl who just lost her brother and sister...very, very sad. Not to mention what the father is going through...I hope this family can recover in time.

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Google FNN News.

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There were a series of cases a few years ago of cyclists losing their legs from impact with badly-designed guard rails. Many (but not all?) of them were then modified to have soft bumpers.

buddhismtech - the highway guardrail was erected too close to the road. Must be something wrong with the Japanese highway regulations governing installation of guardrails. I never heard about this kind of accident in America, despite its population is much larger.

Where else should it be? If it is away from the road, there is a risk of the car overturning, as the hard edge of the road stops immediately at the guard rail. And Japan does not have much space for pavements and kerbs, despite its lavish use of concrete everywhere.

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RIP to the little boy and girl. The greiving process will take time to heal the emotional scars. You have to wonder in this accident if the use of seat belts may have effected the outcome of the children living or dying.

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Terrible tragedy. My condolences to all involved. Hope the mother doesn't blame herself too much. Just speculation but, who knows, she may have swerved to avoid something only to hit the guardrail. Or may have been distracted by something or even the kids. Either way, it's sad.

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martyman .... You have to wonder in this accident if the use of seat belts may have effected the outcome of the children living or dying.

When you look at the picture of the car on the Japanese site, and see the guardrail protruding out of the back of the car, with a cloth covering the end of it, you'll realise that the guard rail would have impacted directly on the two kids on the passenger side, causing severe, fatal trauma. They would not have been able to get out of the way. The child behind the driver would have been saved from sudden stopping damage by a safety belt.

Must have been pretty hard for the Fire Services removing them from the car...

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Must be some design fault with the guard rail. The car should not have been able to cacth the end of the rail like that. The end of the rail should end in the ground, thats what I have seen in other countries, in Japan it seems to end in the air, it is just waiting to happen again. Also the material seems flimsy, weak, better car bounches back then detach the rail from all poles like this. Hope wire guard rails will be installed everywhere soon. I Japan it is forbidden to show nudity, but to show a detailed video with blood from children that died in a car accident is possible, if I was a relative and saw this on TV I would be quiet upset...

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Wanderlust, point taken on the impact of the guardrail in relation to the position of the children. Living here in Japan and observing Japanese drivers, children normally are allowed to wander about in the vehicle and usually they take position in the center of the car both in the back seat and front seat to get a better view of the road. One of the children may have been spared if this was the issue. Either way, two items are very evident in this accident: Driver distraction and vehicle speed.

From the pictures, it looks like she drove onto the high shoulder of the road, losing the ability to re-enter the road. Then striking the end cap of the guard rail. Defensive driving and situational awareness could of prevented this accident.

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