SAITAMA (Kyodo) The two NTV reporters found dead in a mountain waterfall basin in Chichibu, Saitama Prefecture, while trying to reach the site of a recent helicopter crash both drowned, according to an autopsy report Monday.
Yuji Kita, 30, had multiple head injuries and was not wearing shoes when he and cameraman Jun Kawakami, 43, were found Sunday morning in a pool of water at an elevation of about 900 meters.
Kawakami did not have major visible external injuries and both of his shoes were on, according to the police.
The bodies were found about 1 meter apart, both lying on their back in water up to their chest. Their trousers had been pulled down as if they had been caught in a river current and their abdomens were exposed because their T-shirts were pulled up.
One of Kita’s shoes was found 50 meters downstream from the site. The other shoe was still missing. They were found some 2 km from where a prefecture-operated rescue helicopter crashed July 25, killing all five people aboard.
A local mountain expert who accompanied the police rescue team that found the two journalists said, “It may be that one of the two tried to climb the waterfall but failed and fell into the basin.”
He said the other may have tried to rescue his fallen colleague, possibly causing both of them to drown.
The two reporters were initially with mountain guide Takanobu Mizuno, 33, when they set out early Saturday toward the crash site, according to the police. Mizuno said he had them abandon the climb because the temperature was low and Kita was lightly dressed, and they started to head back down the mountain.
But the pair later parted with Mizuno and resumed the climb later in the morning, the police said. After they failed to return, NTV asked for a search.
The police said they plan to conduct autopsies on the two and investigate how and why they resumed their climb despite the guide’s advice.
The Saitama Prefectural Police mountain rescue unit, accompanied by Mizuno, was forced to suspend its investigation Monday morning due to dense fog and rain.
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