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Grand Jury Declines to Indict Father in Seatbelt Death of Son

January 25, 1991

LACONIA, N.H. (AP) _ A grand jury has refused to indict a motorist in the highway death of his 8-year-old son, who was not wearing a seat belt as required by New Hampshire law.

The Belknap County grand jury said Thursday it found that even though not belting children in cars in New Hampshire is illegal, it is not ″a gross deviation from the conduct a reasonable person would observe.″

The grand jury said it might have reached a different conclusion if New Hampshire ″better informed its motorists of the mandatory requirement″ that passengers up to age 12 be in car seats or seat belts.

Toshio Minagawa, 42, of Andover, Mass., had faced indictment on a charge of negligent homicide after his son, Kohei, was thrown from the family van and killed on Interstate 93 in Sanbornton on Dec. 29.

The van struck a guard rail and Minagawa’s son and daughter, Yoko, 12, were thrown from the vehicle. The girl was seriously injured.

Minagawa could have been the first person indicted under the state’s child- restraint law.

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