Bowling Green, KY Van Crash Kills 5, Aug 1993


By Cynthia Crossley Eagles
Staff Writer.

Bowling Green, Ky. - A Japanese family's effort to pack a lot of sightseeing into one weekend may have contributed to an accident Sunday that left five of them dead and one critically injured.
The NOHEJI family of Bowling Green was returning home from the Western Kentucky lakes region when their van hit a guardrail on the Western Kentucky Parkway and flipped several times, state police said.
Four passengers were thrown from the van as it tumbled; they died of multiple injuries.
Killed were MASAKO NOHEJI, 30, of Bowling Green; her 5-year-old daughter, AYUMI; her 14-month-old son, NATARU;
and NOHEJI'S parents, MINORU and TOSHIKO KURASHO, both 61, visiting from Hyogo, Japan.
MASAKO NOHEJI'S sister, TAKAKO KURASHO, 28, also visiting from Hyogo, was flown to Vanderbilt University Hospital in Nashville, Tennessee, and was listed in critical condition.
Only two people - the driver, NOHEJI'S husband, ARATA NOHEJI, 37, and their son TORU, 3 - were wearing seat belts. They suffered minor injuries and were released yesterday from Ohio County Hospital.
State police said the accident happened about 12 miles west of Beaver Dam in the parkway's eastbound lanes about 5:50 p.m.
Trooper Robin Atherton, the investigating officer, said police have not determined the accident's cause, but, "we think it was either some type of distraction or he (ARATA NOHEJI) fell asleep" at the wheel.
NOHEJI in the manager of Sumitomo Electric Wiring Systems Inc.'s business planning department. The NOHEJI'S had lived in Bowling Green about a year and a half, said a Sumitomo vice president, Atsuo Itoh, at the company's local headquarters in Bowling Green.
Itoh said the KURASHOS had been eager to see their new grandson, NATARU, so they made their first trip to the United States.
ARATA NOHEJI took last week off for their visit, which began Aug. 13 and was to end today, Itoh said.
On Saturday, the family drove to Atlanta. On Sunday, they drove to the Western Kentucky lakes region, then stopped at an outlet mall in Eddyville, Itoh and the coroner said.
All that driving "I think may have been one of the problems," Itoh said.

The Courier-Journal Louisville Kentucky 1993-08-24