A district court in Gunma Prefecture has handed the verdict of a Japanese tour bus driver that killed seven and injured 39 people on April 29, 2012. The Maebashi District Court sentenced 45-year old Kazan Kono with nine years and six months imprisonment after the court found him guilty of staying behind the wheel and driving despite feeling drowsy.
Kono was also fined 2 million yen (approx. US$19,500) at the behest of the prosecutors, who tried to get a 10-year prison term for him. Kono’s lawyers defended him, saying he lost consciousness suddenly while driving because of sleep apnea, but it was rejected. He was diagnosed with the sleeping disorder after the accident, but it failed to change the court’s mind. He was charged with negligence in driving which resulted in multiple deaths and injuries after failing to exercise the care required when driving, as he admitted to have dozed off while at the wheel of the bus. He also admitted to feeling drowsy and very tired after working so hard.
The bus, which was on its way to Tokyo Disney Resort in the prefecture of Chiba from Kanazawa city, hit a wall on the roadside of the Kanetsu Expressway while passing through Fujioka in Gunma at a speed of 92 km/h (57 mph). 45 passengers were on board the bus, and seven were instantly killed at the crash, with the rest sustaining moderate to severe injuries. While the bus has the option to have a relief driver on board, Kono said that it didn’t have one at that time as the distance from the place they departed to Disney was only 540 kilometers, and relief drivers were only required for distanced of 670 kilometers or more.
[via Jiji Press]