Japanese driver jailed 14 months in country's first Pokemon Go traffic accident

Flowers are seen on Aug 24, 2016, near the scene where a passer-by was killed after being hit by a driver playing Pokemon Go while driving in Tokushima, Japan.
Flowers are seen on Aug 24, 2016, near the scene where a passer-by was killed after being hit by a driver playing Pokemon Go while driving in Tokushima, Japan. PHOTO: REUTERS/KYODO

TOKUSHIMA - A Japanese driver was sentenced on Monday (Oct 31) to 14 months in prison for fatally knocking down an elderly woman and seriously injuring another because he had been playing Pokemon Go while driving his van, the Kyodo news agency reported.

Keiji Goo, 39, was on Monday convicted of negligence resulting in death and injury for knocking down a 72-year-old woman with his van and causing serious injuries to the other woman as they were crossing a road.

The accident in the city of Tokushima in Japan's Shikoku Island on Aug 23 is the first vehicle fatality in the country linked to the wildly popular smartphone game, the Kyodo report said. The game was released in Japan on July 22.

Goo's defence team said he is not planning to appeal the ruling.

The judge presiding over the case said Goo's negligence was grave, given that he had not noticed the victims crossing on a straight road.

It was previously reported that Goo had been driving at 50 kilometres per hour on a single-lane road when he struck the women.

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

The prosecution had sought 20 months in prison.

The case is one of three three fatal traffic accidents caused by drivers playing the game, Kyodo reported, citing information from the National Police Agency.

A Vietnamese woman in Aichi prefecture died on Aug 25, two weeks after being hit by a car while she was riding a bicycle.

On Aug 28, a nine-year-old Japanese boy, also from Aichi, was killed in a fatal accident caused by a truck driver playing the game while driving. The boy had been on his way home from school.