Pokemon Go has its first fatality, as playing driver strikes pedestrians in Japan

The other shoe has dropped. Since its release last month, news stations and social media have been abuzz with the almost-certain prospect that somewhere, somehow, Niantic’s mega-popular Pokemon Go game was going to get someone killed. That appears to have now come to pass.

To be clear, there have been small-scale accidents and other dangerous incidents since the game’s release: minor traffic collisions, robberies, and at least one abortive armed stick-up in Las Vegas. A teenager in Guatemala was also shot to death while playing the app, but as far as anyone can tell, this is the first instance of Pokemon Go directly leading to someone’s death.

As reported by ANN (and translated into English here), last night at around 7:25pm local time, two women were crossing a street in Tokushima, Japan, when they were struck by a distracted driver, 39-year-old Keiji Goh. Both women — 72-year-old Sachiko Nakanishi and 60-year-old Kayoko Igawa — suffered serious injuries as a result of the collision, and Nakanishi subsequently died at the hospital.

Upon his arrest, Goh was quoted as saying, “I was playing Pokemon Go while driving, so I didn’t really see what was in front of me.”

Goh's vehicle following the collision (image via NHK).

Goh’s vehicle following the collision (image via NHK).

Pokemon Go is not meant to be played while at the wheel, and includes several warning messages to this effect, one viewed upon loading the app and another if the game detects the user is traveling above a certain speed (around 25km/h or 15mph). Nevertheless, the game doesn’t actually block you from playing at high speed, and there have been numerous reports of accidents as a result of playing while driving (although an early story claiming a massive freeway pile-up turned out to be a hoax).

Top image via CNET.

(h/t Kotaku, ANN, NHK, Japan Times.)