Police are considering charging the head of a day care in southwestern Japan with professional negligence resulting in death after a 5-year-old boy died when he was left aboard a school bus for several hours in intense heat, investigative sources have said.

The boy, Toma Kurakake, was found unconscious in a locked school bus on Thursday evening and later pronounced dead at a hospital. Autopsy results show he died of heatstroke, the police said.

The head of the day care in Nakama, Fukuoka Prefecture, usually drives the school bus herself to pick children up every morning, without any other staff members on board.

After the bus arrived at the facility at around 8:30 a.m., the boy is likely to have been left behind. He was not discovered until about nine hours later, when school staff found him on the bus at around 5:15 p.m.

“I was aware of (the boy’s) boarding, but thought he got off the bus,” the day care head, who is in her 40s. was quoted by the police as saying, while admitting she did not confirm it at the time.

According to the investigative sources, Kurakake sat in a rear seat of the bus when he boarded, but was found in a seat at the front with his bag nearby.

A teacher in charge of the boy told city officials that she was aware of his absence, but did not contact his mother.

The accident came to light as the boy’s mother called the day care to report him missing, prompting school staff to locate the boy in the bus.

According to the municipal government, the day care head and two female staff members were in charge of confirming attendance when children arrived at the facility.

They told city officials that they were checking the day’s attendance while taking care of a crying child, suggesting the school head and others may have been sloppy in the checking process.

According to a local meteorological observatory, the temperature on the day of the incident had surpassed 33 Celsius in nearby Kitakyushu before noon.

In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.