GIFU – Police are investigating a golf course in Kani, Gifu Prefecture, where two boys drowned in a pond earlier this week, and nearby residents say there was a hole in the facility’s fence, raising suspicions that its operator was lax about safety.
Ryuto Yonezawa and Riku Okazaki, who were in the second grade at Joto Elementary School in the neighboring city of Inuyama, Aichi Prefecture, apparently entered the Nagoya Hills Golf Club in Kani after it closed for the day on Tuesday.
According to police sources, the boys entered the club together with another friend, a 7-year-old in the first grade at the public elementary school.
The pond measures about 160 meters long and 45 meters wide, and has a maximum depth of about 5 meters, according to the club’s operator.
The younger friend and his mother said the three boys were throwing small pebbles into the pond when Yonezawa fell into the water. As he struggled to get out, Okazaki jumped into the pond in an attempt to rescue him.
The younger friend rushed home for help, but when he brought back his mother and sister, they found the two older boys floating in the water. The sister called for an ambulance while the mother pulled them out, but they were unresponsive.
According to a local media outlet, the boys were transported to separate hospitals in Minokamo and Tajimi in Gifu Prefecture, but they were both confirmed dead about two hours later.
The report said Yonezawa’s mother also rushed to the pond and jumped into the water with the younger boy’s mother. Both women developed mild hypothermia, but they remained conscious and were not in serious condition.
Although the club’s operator stressed the golf course is surrounded by a fence, local residents told a reporter there is a hole in the 1.75-meter-high fence where the boys could have easily entered the facility.
Officials at the boys’ school said they apparently went to the golf club directly after finishing the day’s classes at around 2:50 p.m. They said they were not aware the children were playing at the golf course.
The Nagoya Hills Golf Club is located near the residential area in Inuyama where Okazaki and Yonezawa lived. The facility is about 1.2 km northwest of Zenjino Station on the Meitetsu Hiromi Line.