For the families of the nine people who perished when the Sasago Tunnel collapsed a year ago, it is important that they honor the memories of their loved ones so they will not be forgotten. But they also need to know who is ultimately responsible for the tragedy that claimed the lives of these people on December 2, 2012.
The families of the victims held a memorial ceremony on Monday, near the accident site. It was sponsored and also attended by officials from the Central Nippon Expressway Co., including President Takekazu Kaneko. Before the ceremony, the families offered flowers and silent prayers at the entrance at exactly 8:03 a.m., which was when the accident occurred a year ago in the tunnel that connects the cities of Otsuki and Koshu in Yamanashi Prefecture.
The ceiling slabs of the tunnel on the Chuo Expressway collapsed, crushing two cars and also causing a fire where some of the victims died. One of them was 28-year-old Yuri Ishikawa, who burned to death in the fire, prompting her family to sue NEXCO-Central last May. Her parents, Shinichi Ishikawa, 64, and Yoshiko, 55, have put their daughter’s grave in a cemetery with a view of Mount Fuji and is surrounded by cherry blossoms, to honor her wishes. Another woman who lost her life that fateful day was Ishikawa’s roommate, 28-year-old Rei Matsumoto. The two were on their way home from a visit in Yamanishi when the collapse happened. To cope with their loss, her parents left their respective jobs and went on to trace the life she led away from them by visiting the house she lived in and meeting her friends. “It was like meeting my daughter again (through her acquaintances). Meeting the people who knew her kept us going,” they said.
Both families decided to engrave on their daughters’ tombstones that they died in the Sasago Tunnel accident to let other people know that a senseless tragedy like this happened. “We have to clarify who is responsible for my daughter’s death to prevent a recurrence of such a tragedy,” said Rei’s father. The tunnel has been repaired since then, but there has been no decision on the lawsuit filed by five of the victims’ families.
[ via Jiji Press ]