Two toddlers killed after car ploughs into group of kindergarteners in Japan

An aerial view of the site showed one car veered up off the road and onto the pavement, ramming into a group of 13 nursery school children and three teachers, in Otsu, western Japan, on May 8, 2019.
An aerial view of the site showed one car veered up off the road and onto the pavement, ramming into a group of 13 nursery school children and three teachers, in Otsu, western Japan, on May 8, 2019. PHOTO: REUTERS

TOKYO (AFP) - A car ploughed into a group of kindergarten children in western Japan’s Shiga region on Wednesday (May 8), killing two toddlers and injuring others, police said.

Police said the car veered onto the pavement after making “contact” with another larger vehicle that was turning at a junction in Otsu City.

The accident killed a girl and a boy, both two years old, a police spokesman told AFP.

“The (smaller) car rammed into a group of 13 nursery school children and three teachers who were walking on the pavement,” the police said in a statement.

A police spokesman said some of the rest of the group suffered injuries, but could not give further details. The local city government also confirmed the accident, but had no further details.

The children and their teachers were on the pavement near a crossing when the small vehicle crashed into them. Japanese nursery schools regularly take children to the local park for playtime or out on short excursions during the day.

Footage on local media in the aftermath of the accident showed one car veered up off the road and onto the pavement. A second car that appeared to have been damaged in a crash could be seen still on the road.

“We’re very shocked and terribly saddened by this ghastly accident,” the company operating the nursery said in a statement on their Facebook page.

“We are truly sorry, thinking of the future of the children who passed away.”

Police said they had arrested the drivers of both cars – a 52-year-old woman and a 62-year-old woman.

Japan has seen a rise in fatal accidents caused by elderly drivers. Drivers over 65 were responsible for 965 deadly accidents in Japan – more than a quarter of the total – in 2016, according to the National Police Agency.

Most accidents caused by elderly drivers resulted from them mixing up the accelerator and the brake or losing control of the steering wheel.

Last month, a woman and her three-year-old daughter were killed when an 87-year-old man rammed into their bicycle.

The driver said the crash was caused by a fault with the car and police are still investigating.