Eight hurt after bus jumps barrier

Kyodo

A sightseeing bus with no passengers crashed through the center divider of an expressway in Aichi Prefecture on Sunday and rumbled about 200 meters through opposing traffic, hitting nine vehicles and injuring eight people, police said.

The accident took place along a straight section of the Meishin Expressway in Ichinomiya, which has two lanes running in each direction. The bus was going west toward Osaka at about 6 p.m. when it broke through the guardrail and careened into oncoming traffic, police said.

Seven Aichi residents and a 22-year-old man from Okaya, Nagano Prefecture, who were in four cars hit by the bus were lightly injured, while a 56-year-old truck driver from Yao, Osaka Prefecture, was rushed to a nearby hospital after the bus hit his vehicle, causing it to overturn. He was not injured, police said.

The 63-year-old driver of the sightseeing bus sustained head injuries and was hospitalized, police said, but his condition is not life-threatening.

Investigators found no skid marks at the site of the crash, leading them to suspect the driver, the president of NEK Kotsu, which owns and operates the bus, may have fallen asleep at the wheel.

Police searched the company’s office in Nosecho, Osaka Prefecture, on Sunday, on suspicion of negligent driving resulting in injury. They plan to question the driver after he recovers.

Police did not disclose his name.

NEK Kotsu, established in 1998 with ¥3 million in capital, operates general sightseeing and travel agent services, according to the NEK Kotsu’s company register.