• Kyodo


A woman was killed and four people were injured when a car driven by a doctor ran across a sidewalk and struck an apparel shop outside JR Ikebukuro Station in Tokyo on Sunday night, police said.

The car struck pedestrians before crashing into the Zara clothing store in the busy shopping area in Toshima Ward at around 9:30 p.m.

Toshiko Ebata, a 41-year-old pharmacist from Itabashi Ward who was initially listed in critical condition, later died, the police said.

A man and three other women aged from their 20s to their 70s were also injured but were not in life-threatening condition, the police said.

Shoichiro Kaneko, a 53-year-old doctor from Kita Ward, was arrested on suspicion of negligence resulting in injury while driving.

“I have no memory of ramming into the sidewalk,” Kaneko was quoted by the police as telling investigators. “I don’t remember what happened, maybe because I was tired and fell asleep.”

He told the investigators that he had eaten noodles near Ikebukuro Station before driving, according to the police.

No sign of alcohol was detected when he underwent a breath test, and substance abuse is unlikely, the police said.

The police were continuing their investigation.

Witnesses said Kaneko was shouting “What’s wrong?” when he was subdued by officers.

Officials at Ikebukuro Police Station said Kaneko first drove his car out of an underground parking lot near Ikebukuro Station and briefly stopped. Then he started again and failed to make a right turn and smashed straight into the apparel shop, the police said.

There were no skid marks or other indication on the street indicating that Kaneko tried to brake the vehicle, according to the police.

People who witnessed the crash said Kaneko plowed into people waiting at a red pedestrian crossing light before slamming his vehicle into the apparel store. Some of the injured were bleeding, one witness said.

The accident occurred not far from where another deadly car crash took place in June 2014 when a man under the influence of quasi-legal herbs slammed his car into pedestrians.

Keiji Nagura, a restaurant manager from Yoshikawa, Saitama Prefecture, was arrested over the incident. A woman in her 30s was killed and six other pedestrians were injured.

The case prompted police nationwide to intensify their crackdown against quasi-legal herbs, the use of which has been spreading not only among youths but also among older people.

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