• Kyodo


Police on Tuesday identified the Sri Lankan national killed last week when a train collided with his car as he drove down the tracks in Inazawa, Aichi Prefecture.

Elic Pream Kumara Higurugamage, a 37-year-old employee of a food retailing company and a resident of Inazawa city, was killed and 23 other people were injured Sept. 26 when the express train rammed into his car, which had entered the railway line at a level crossing and was traveling ahead of the train along the tracks, at 8:30 a.m.

Investigators say skid marks left by Higurugamage’s car indicate he may have accidentally driven off the road at the crossing and that he may have been trying to make his way back to the road at the time of the accident.

Higurugamage was on his way home after working a 12-hour shift that began 8 p.m. the day before. He was a forklift operator at a warehouse.

A fellow Sri Lankan contacted the Inazawa Police Station after the collision to tell them the victim might be Higurugamage.

Higurugamage worked at the food retailing company under a different name, police said, adding that a check with the Sri Lankan Embassy confirmed his identity.

Among those injured in the collision were train driver Takayuki Ito, 32; Mitsuhiro Ohira, 39, the conductor; and at least 21 train passengers, one of whom suffered a broken leg.

The collision derailed the first two cars of the eight-car Nagoya Railroad Co. (Meitetsu) express train, which was packed with about 900 people. About 250,000 commuters were affected by the accident. , which halted the Meitetsu Nagoya Line for 15 hours.

The police said Higurugamage drove through the closed barrier gates at the crossing and traveled along the tracks in the same direction as the train, which was bound for Toyohashi, Aichi, from Shin-Gifu Station in neighboring Gifu Prefecture.