Fukushima boy drowns trying to rescue girl, 3

Kyodo

A 6-year-old boy died attempting to rescue a 3-year-old girl who had fallen into the Abukuma River in Koriyama, Fukushima Prefecture, on Wednesday, police said.

Manato Tatsuta was among some 10 children playing by the river Wednesday afternoon when the 3-year-old girl fell into the current. Tatsuta and his 8-year-old sister jumped into the water to try and save the girl, but all three were swept away, police said, based on information provided by other children who witnessed the tragedy.

The 3-year-old girls remains unconscious but the boy’s older sister escaped uninjured.

“One of the kids fell into the river and the other two went in to rescue them,” police quoted the children as saying.

Tatsuta was pulled from the river about 400 to 500 meters downstream by a group of high school students. He was soon transported to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

The two girls were found about 200 meters downstream and rescued by a man in his 30s.

A woman living in the area said she saw a rescue team perform CPR on the kids. She also said the children, wrapped up in blankets, were soon taken away in ambulances.

“Manato had just started school,” said Isao Watanabe, principal of Koharada Elementary School in Koriyama, the school Tatsuta and his sister attended. “It’s such a regrettable outcome,” he said Wednesday.

According to the Fukushima Local Meteorological Observatory’s report, the weather at 4 p.m. Wednesday in Koriyama was a sunny and warm 16.7 degrees.

According to a 62-year-old woman living in the same apartment building as Tatsuta, the first-grader lived with his parents, two older sisters and a younger brother. She said the kids would often spend time with other children playing by the riverside.

Nami Igarashi, 8, who lives nearby, said Tatsuta was energetic and always smiling. “He was a kind boy. Every time a kid fell over, he would always come and ask, ‘Are you OK?,’ ” she said.

Meanwhile, a 36-year-old woman whose son also entered the Koharada school in April said her son always walked home from school with Tatsuta.

“I just saw him today coming home with my son. It’s so hard to believe what happened,” she said. “I just can’t find words when I think of how his parents must feel.”