A doctor who allegedly plowed his car into a crowded sidewalk near Tokyo’s Ikebukuro Station, leaving one person dead and four injured, was turned over to prosecutors Tuesday.
The police said Shoichiro Kaneko, 53, may have blacked out due to an epileptic seizure before the accident Sunday evening.
Kaneko has had epilepsy since he was a university student, they said.
A doctor who has been treating him since 2006 said Kaneko’s condition is medically controlled, but the police were unsure whether he was on medication at the time of the accident.
Whether Kaneko reported his medical condition when he updated his driver’s license in December 2013 also is unknown, they said. He has reportedly told investigators he has no health problems or medical conditions.
The police sent Kaneko to the prosecutors on suspicion of committing dangerous driving resulting in death or injury.
An amended law in force since May 2014 ensures that this charge covers accidents resulting in death or injury caused by a driver with certain types of epilepsy, schizophrenia or other medical condition. The maximum penalty is 15 years imprisonment.
“I was sleep-deprived and exhausted after driving the whole day and fell asleep while driving,” Kaneko was quoted by the police as saying.
He has also told investigators he remembers going up a hill to exit a parking lot near the station but has no memory beyond driving toward a major street, they said.
The police are analyzing security camera footage.
Kaneko left his home in Kita Ward, Tokyo, around 1 p.m. Sunday and visited a cemetery in Yokohama before returning home. He then went to the Ikebukuro district and entered the underground parking lot around 8:50 p.m.
He drove the car out of the lot around 45 minutes later and drove some 50 meters on a major street before hitting the pedestrians, the police said. The car ended up smashed against a storefront.
No alcohol was detected on his breath and an initial urine test for drugs came up negative, the police said.
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