OSAKA — Osaka Prefectural Police on Friday searched a key operational headquarters of West Japan Railway Co. (JR West) two days after a rescue worker was run down by a train while assisting a teenager.
Yoshio Nakazawa, 28, died from loss of blood shortly after he was hit by a JR West express train at about 7:45 p.m. Wednesday in Yodogawa Ward, Osaka. He and some colleagues were called in to help a 14-year-old boy who was injured while playing with friends on tracks of the JR Tokaido Line. Another rescue worker was seriously injured in the incident.
JR West admitted Thursday it did not tell the emergency personnel that train services had resumed on the tracks. JR West halted the train service after the boy was injured but started back up again 25 minutes later.
The city’s fire department blamed the railway operator for what it sees as blatant mismanagement and a lack of safety precautions. At least 10 people, including fire officials, police and JR West employees, were at the scene at the time, investigators said.
JR West Vice President Takeshi Kakiuchi told a news conference Friday the firm has set up a task force to look into the accident, and that the company would cooperate fully with investigative authorities.
Police said they are looking into the case on suspicion of professional negligence resulting in death and injury. Sources close to the investigation said that JR West’s information flow and other links in its chain of command will come under scrutiny.
Meanwhile, the Kinki Regional Transport Bureau was expected to issue a warning to JR West demanding that it swiftly devise measures that would prevent a recurrence of a similar case and to report to regulators.
Investigations so far show that Nakazawa was hit by an express train that was going 100 kph.
There was only an 80- to 90-cm gap between a passing train and a border fence. The train’s driver apparently had no idea any rescue work was going on.
The train itself is also to be inspected by police. Although it is owned by a third-sector company, the Osaka police have already ordered it to be taken out of operation pending inspection.
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