September 19th 2018
A combination of a stuck wheelchair and an inactive safety sensor that detects objects on the tracks possibly contributed to the death of a 73-year old man at a railway crossing, the Kobe Shimbun reported.
It appears Hirokazu Mukai was attempting to use crossing located in between Hankyu Rokko Station and Oji Koen Station (crossing pictured below) on the Hankyu Kobe Line in Nada ward, when he was hit by a train at 7:15pm on September 16th.
Some at a Nada ward train station reported that a “man stood up from the wheelchair and seemed to be heading north” and that his wheelchair may have got caught on the undulating parts of the tracks.
Local residents often see wheelchair users struggling to use the crossing. A self-employed woman (82) who lives near the scene said, “There are many people who attempt to pass and a is tire caught in a sunken part of a railroad crossing, strongly pushing up or lifting up, and the train has speed and I thought that it was dangerous.”
According to Hankyu Corporation that runs the railway, there is “obstacle detection device” that uses infrared rays to detect stationary objects on the railroad crossing, but there is a strong possibility that it did not work. The device only reacts to obstacles of about 80 cm in height and may not work with wheelchairs and people. The emergency stop button at the railroad crossing was also pressed, but they could not make it in time.