FUKUOKA – A toddler who nearly drowned after getting his head stuck in a rainwater drain outside a day care center in the city of Fukuoka on Monday was still unconscious as of Tuesday evening, according to the police.
The 19-month-old boy was found at around 2:50 p.m. Monday by nursery staff who called an ambulance. The drain was full with rainwater.
The Fukuoka Prefectural Police are investigating the incident at the Kobato Hoikuen day care center in Minami Ward as a possible case of negligence in regard to the safety of a child.
A cover for the drain was not in place when the boy was found, according to the police.
The cover was light enough that a child could remove it until several months ago, when the nursery had it weighted down, investigative sources said.
“I wasn’t aware that drains could be dangerous,” said Keiji Fukuyama, head of Yamabato-kai, the welfare corporation that operates the day care center.
The boy managed to place his head inside the cylindrical channel with a diameter of about 30 cm. The 35-cm-deep drain was filled with about 7 cm of rainwater when the boy was found, the police said.
Until around 2 p.m., the boy, who was able to walk, had been taking a nap on the first floor of the center together with eight other infants under the supervision of three staff members who were in the same room. It remains unclear what happened between when he went to sleep and when he was found in the channel located near the entrance to the room.
“Of course, it’s our responsibility,” Fukuyama said. “I have no words in which to convey to the boy’s family how sorry I am.”