9-year-old boy killed by truck driver playing Pokemon Go in central Japan

A fourth-grader at an elementary school in Ichinomiya died in a fatal accident caused by a truck driver playing Pokemon Go while driving.
A fourth-grader at an elementary school in Ichinomiya died in a fatal accident caused by a truck driver playing Pokemon Go while driving.PHOTO: REUTERS

TOKYO - A nine-year-old boy on his way home from school has died in a fatal accident caused by a truck driver playing the wildly popular Pokemon Go smartphone game while driving.

Japan's National Police Agency said Keita Noritake, a fourth-grader at an elementary school in Ichinomiya city, in Aichi Prefecture, was crossing an intersection when he was struck down by the truck on Wednesday (Oct 26).

The boy died of his injuries about two hours after the accident, which had occurred at about 4.10pm local time (3.10pm Singapore time).

Police arrested truck driver Nobusuke Kawai, 36, at the scene.

Kawai has confessed to playing 'Pokemon Go' as he was driving, and was not looking at the road in front of him when the accident happened.

He also told the police that he tends to switch on the app whenever he is travelling by car.

The accident happened on a single-lane road with a speed limit of 40 kilometres per hour, at an intersection with no traffic lights, media reports said.

In the game, players can hunt, capture, battle and train virtual creatures called Pokemon, which appear on the screen as if they were in the same real world location as the players.

This is the latest Pokemon Go-related tragedy to plague Japan.

On August 23, a 72-year-old woman died and her friend severely injured when they were knocked down by a truck driver, who was also playing Pokemon Go.

That accident occurred in Katanokamicho town, in Tokushima Prefecture in west Japan.

Farmer Keiji Goou, 39, was arrested and charged for causing death and injury as a result of being distracted while driving. He was driving at 50 kilometres per hour on a single-lane road when he struck the women.

He at first told the police that he was checking the time on his smartphone, before confessing that he was playing Pokemon Go.

Just two days later, a Vietnamese woman in her 20s died of her injuries sustained two weeks earlier when she was hit by a car in Kasugai city of Aichi Prefecture.

The driver, who is in his 20s and who has not been named, said he was looking away from the road at the time of the collision because he was trying to charge his phone.

He said his phone battery was almost dead because he had been playing the game.

waltsim@sph.com.sg