Police search bus company after fatal accident

The Yomiuri Shimbun
The tourist bus being towed away from the scene of the accident on Thursday.

After Thursday’s tourist bus accident in Shizuoka Prefecture killed one passenger and left 35 others injured, the Shizuoka prefectural police searched the headquarters and branch office of bus operator Misugi Kanko Bus, both in Hanno, Saitama Prefecture, on Friday morning, on suspicion of negligent driving resulting in death.

An employee of the bus company who is familiar with the accident site said that the overuse of the foot brake could have reduced breaking performance, resulting in what is called “brake fade.”

According to sources involved in the investigation, Yuta Noguchi, the 26-year-old driver of the bus, who was arrested immediately on suspicion of negligent driving resulting in injury, told investigators that the brakes had not worked .

The bus overturned on a section of continually declining curves on the Fuji Azami Line road that leads to Mt. Fuji. A man working for a company that operates bus services on the road said drivers should drive down it using the engine brake, not the foot brake, to avoid brake fade. “The weight of the bus causes you to miscalculate how fast it will run. Drivers should have a lot of experience before driving on the road,” the man said.

What appear to be braking marks have been found near the accident site and the prefectural police are carefully investigating the accident.