• Kyodo

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Prosecutors on Tuesday indicted a man on charges of dangerous driving resulting in death or injury in connection with a June highway accident that killed a married couple.

Kazuho Ishibashi, a 25-year-old construction worker from Fukuoka, was arrested by police on charges including negligence resulting in death or injury, but prosecutors applied a stricter charge of dangerous driving saying there was a clear causal relationship between the accident and his driving in a reckless manner.

Yoshihisa Hagiyama, 45, and his wife Yuka, 39, died on the Tomei Expressway in Kanagawa Prefecture on June 5 after Ishibashi allegedly blocked a lane of the road by suddenly stopping his car in front of couple’s vehicle, which was then hit from behind by a truck.

Ishibashi was outside of his vehicle when the collision occurred. It is rare for the charge of dangerous driving causing death or injury to be brought against someone who was not behind the wheel at the time of the accident.

Prosecutors said Ishibashi overtook the victims’ vehicle at around 100 kilometers per hour and then stopped suddenly in front of them, resulting in the charge, which carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison.

According to the indictment, Ishibashi was enraged after Hagiyama criticized him for the way he parked his car at an expressway parking area. He chased the Hagiyamas for about 1.4 km before forcing them to stop in a passing lane.

Ishibashi was trying to drag Yoshihisa Hagiyama out of his vehicle when the collision occurred.

Prosecutors believe Ishibashi has frequently engaged in reckless driving as he was referred to prosecutors in May for damaging another vehicle in Shimonoseki, Yamaguchi Prefecture, by obstructing the path of the vehicle and kicking its door.

Police at the time had also considered charging him with dangerous driving, but they arrested him on the lesser charge on the grounds that he was not driving the vehicle at the time of the accident.

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