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Woman gets suspended term for fatal Kawasaki bicycle crash linked to smartphone

Kyodo

A woman was given a two-year prison term, suspended for four years, on Monday for negligent cycling that killed an elderly woman in Kawasaki last year.

Miku Morino, who was a university student at the time, had a smartphone in her left hand, a drink in her right hand and an earphone in her left ear when she crashed her electric bike into Akiko Yonezawa on a street in Kawasaki on Dec. 7, the Yokohama District Court’s Kawasaki branch noted in its ruling.

Yonezawa died two days later at the age of 77.

“The defendant was grossly negligent in riding without being aware that she could kill or injure a pedestrian,” the presiding Judge Kenichi Emi said in handing down the ruling.

Prosecutors had demanded two years in prison, but the court suspended the sentence, given that Morino, 20, was traveling at the relatively low speed of 9 kph at the time and has shown remorse.

The accident highlighted the rising danger of public smartphone use while riding bicycles.

In a similar case earlier this month, a 19-year-old male university student was referred to prosecutors after allegedly crashing his bicycle into a 62-year-old pedestrian in Tsukuba, Ibaraki Prefecture, in June. The crash was fatal and the student was using his smartphone at the time.