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Crane truck kills six Japanese kids walking to school Monday

By Mark Weitzman     Apr 19, 2011 in World
Six elementary school children were run over and killed by a mobile crane truck Monday morning in Kanuma, Tochigi Prefecture, 136Km north of Tokyo.
A group of 20-to-30 students of Kitaoshihara Primary School were walking on the designated pedestrian walkway on National Highway Route 293 when the truck hit them at about 7:45 a.m. The two-lane road is nine meters wide and does not have a guardrail between the roadway and walking lane.
Five boys and a girl were taken to a hospital, but all died of their injuries. The six children included three fourth-graders, one fifth-grader and two sixth-graders.
The accident occurred about 170 meters from the school.
Tochigi prefectural police said the crane truck crossed the center line, ran over a single barrier pole, and ran into the middle of the group of children.
The vehicle continued on several meters and smashed into a shed next to a house, stopping in a vacant lot adjacent to the home.
The 26-year-old driver of the crane, Masato Shibata, was arrested at the scene. Police say the driver driver apparently had not been drinking. He has been charged with professional negligence resulting in death.
Witnesses report the crane driver was slumped over the steering wheel when his vehicle hit the children.
Skies were overcast and the road was dry when the accident occurred. No skid marks were visible at the accident site.
The Kanuma board of education is providing counseling to treat the children who witnessed the accident.
More about Japan, Accident, Crane, Elementary school, Students
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