On route to Tokyo, a driver of a bullet train heard an abnormal sound as he headed through a tunnel with over 200 passengers on board.
The noise, a dull thud, came from the train's bonnet, the Japan Times reports. Thinking nothing of it, the driver continued his journey without reporting it to the authorities. He dismissed the sound as caused by hitting a small animal, a spokesperson from the train line told Sora News 24. He'd heard a similar noise before, and decided not to stop as there was no threat to passenger safety.
However, some 32 kilometers (20 miles) later at Kokura Station, a large crack in the front of the train was discovered. Despite the superficial damage done to the train, it was allowed to continue on to the main island of Honshu, where it was inspected more thoroughly. It was here that staff made a rather grim discovery.
Inside the crack in the nose of the train, they found parts of a human body. The dull thud heard inside the tunnel turned out to be caused by a collision with a man, rather than an animal as the train driver had thought. The impact had been enough to crack the front of the bullet train, and part of his body had become lodged within the crack in the train's nose.
Later on, authorities found more body parts inside the tunnel, which they matched to the body parts they found inside the train through fingerprinting. An unoccupied car was found near an access ladder used by maintenance workers, the Japan Times reports. The police are treating the death of the 52-year-old carer from Fukuoka Prefecture as a suicide.
The incident is being investigated upon the transport minister's instruction, with the West Japan Railway Co. focusing on the driver's decision not to alert the authorities straight away upon hearing the collision.
If you or someone you know are in crisis, call the toll-free National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), available 24 hours a day. The service is available to anyone and all calls are confidential. Or you can visit their website here.