Negligence in parking carousel death suspected

Kyodo

An elderly woman who died Thursday after apparently being crushed in a mechanical parking garage in Inazawa, Aichi Prefecture, has triggered a police safety review of such facilities amid allegations of negligence.

The woman, identified as Harue Marutani, 84, was found pinned under a car-carrying gondola at Konomiya parking facility in front of Konomiya Station on the Meitetsu Nagoya Main Line at around 4:15 p.m. Thursday.

A female employee at the ferris-wheel-type facility found Marutani immediately and called an ambulance, but the woman died of shock from multiple fractures about three hours after being taken to the hospital.

It is not clear whether Marutani was outside her vehicle when the accident happened.

Inazawa police are looking into whether her death resulted from professional negligence, perhaps by somebody activating the rotating car-transport mechanism in the 28-meter-high facility without doing a safety check.

Accidents at mechanical parking facilities are on the rise, and the transport ministry has set up a committee to devise tighter safety measures by the end of March. Nine people were killed in 24 accidents involving such facilities from 2007 to 2013, it said.

Police speculate that a 66-year-old woman who was at the controls at the time failed to confirm whether Marutani’s vehicle left the loading point before allowing the vertical carousel to rotate.

The facility owner’s wife said a sensor should have detected whether someone was in the area.

The employee was quoted by the police as saying she heard a strange noise when loading another car and “pressed the emergency button, but it was too late.”