A tourist bus – usually filled with passengers going sightseeing, but fortunately empty this time – collided with the central divider of the expressway in Aichi Prefecture on Sunday. It went through the barrier and ran through 200 meters of opposing traffic, hitting nine other vehicles and injuring eight people in the process, this according to information from the police about the accident.
The incident happened along a section of the Meishin Expressway in Ichinomiya, a stretch of road that has two lanes in each direction. The bus was traveling west toward Osaka at around 6 p.m. when witnesses say that it suddenly crashed through the guard rail and plowed into oncoming traffic. Riding in oncoming cars and injured by the accident were seven people from Aichi prefecture and a 22-year-old man from Okaya, Nagano Prefecture. Also hit by the bus was the vehicle being driven by a 56-year-old truck driver from Osaka Prefecture. Authorities said the truck driver was rushed to a nearby hospital after the bus hit his vehicle, causing it to overturn. Police revealed that the truck driver was not hurt. The 63-year-old driver of the tourist bus sustained light head injuries and is still in the hospital, but his condition is not life-threatening, according to officials.
According to the initial police investigation, the tourist bus was being run by a tourism company called NEK Kotsu, and that the driver of the bus was actually the president of the said company. Investigators said that all evidence is pointing to a situation where the driver may have fallen asleep at the wheel. Police have already searched the company’s office in Osaka Prefecture on Sunday to see if there was any malice or negligent driving involved. They also plan to question the driver after he recovers.
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