National

87-year-old driver in Tokyo car crash that killed mom, daughter suspected of mistakenly pressing gas pedal

Kyodo

No skid marks have been detected on the road in Tokyo’s Ikebukuro district where a car crash killed two people and injured eight others Friday, causing investigators to suspect that the driver mistakenly stepped on the gas pedal, police said Saturday.

Mana Matsunaga, 31, and her 3-year-old daughter, Riko, died when a car driven by an 87-year-old man rammed into their bicycle. The car also struck another cyclist, injured the driver of a garbage truck and mowed down four pedestrians before coming to a halt some 150 meters after first striking a guard rail.

The Metropolitan Police Department has identified the driver as Kozo Iizuka. Both Iizuka and his wife, who was in the car with him, suffered broken bones and were admitted to hospital.

The driver was quoted by police as saying the accelerator pedal became stuck.

Police have found no evidence that Iizuka is suffering from any serious health problems or was under the influence of alcohol or medication at the time of the accident.

In the investigation so far, nothing has been found that could have impeded the movement of the accelerator pedal, they said.

In footage from his dashboard camera, Iizuka says,”What’s going on” just before the crash. He is also heard calling his son, saying he ended up running over many people and claiming the accelerator pedal got stuck, the police said.

A neighbor of the driver said he saw Iizuka walking with a cane and having trouble parking his car in his garage in recent months.

On Saturday, scores of people paid their respects to the victims as the scene of the accident.

“I saw the news and brought some sweets and juice,” said Toshiharu Asakawa, a company employee who lives in the neighborhood. “I can’t believe something like this happened on the road I use to commute every day.”

A woman in her 60s said she knew Matsunaga and her daughter, whom she noted were living happily with their family in the neighborhood.

“Mana was a sweet person and Riko, being a toddler, was very cute. I am at a loss for words to give her family,” she said.

Iizuka, after graduating from the University of Tokyo, joined the trade ministry in 1953. He resigned as head of the Agency of Industrial Science and Technology in 1989.

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