About Tragic Accident Happened to Nadia (Yoshiko Sunada) and Toshihito Shibata

On Feb 17 2013, our team members and great adventure racers Toshihito Shibata and Yoshiko Sunada (Nadia) passed away due to an accident in sea kayak training.

Nadia has joined Team Real Discovery in 2009 to race 48hrs adventure racing in Australia. Since then we raced together several adventure races in Japan and ARWC (Adventure Racing World Championship) in Tasmania 2011. She also raced Patagonian Expedition Race in 2012 as member of international based team called Team Four Continents. She has been really passionate about adventure racing and even changed her job to become a professional adventure racer. One of her skilled area was paddling sports. - She was representing Chiba-Prefecture in Canoe (wild water) at the National Athletic Meet.

Toshihito has joined Team Real Discovery in 2012. He has the longest racing career in the team -not only Adventure Racing also various adventure sports such as Rogaining, MTB and trail running. He won 1st places from various adventure races. Personally, Dai raced with him ARJS (Adventure Racing Japan Series) in 2012. We knew he had great interest to challenge AR (Adventure Race) in world class, so we joined up last November.

Our targeted race is up coming XPD: Adventure Racing World Series qualifier in Australia in Sep 2013. XPD is our second attempt as a team and we set high objective to compete in this race. At the same time, and the most importantly, our objective was to see Nadia's big smile at the finish line - not big tears at middle of the course.

The day Feb 16. It was not scheduled team training, so it was more of ad-hoc paddling training just two of them. Toshihito is "safety comes first" type of person, so he sent email to Nadia and team on Friday evening saying that we just started gearing up for the race so lets do this safe. Saturday was a pretty windy and cold day - blowing north wind (blowing land to ocean), so Toshihito and Nadia said to their family "Safety first, we don’t go out to the ocean, just paddle on the river" and left home in the morning. In addition, we exchanged email to do training in caution.

9:30-10:00 AM they entered to the water from Sakai-gawa river in Urayasu, Chiba. The entry point is a flat water (width is about 10m or so and river bank is covered by asphalt), so generally it is safe. If you paddle down the river about 1.5km from the entry point -it is Tokyo Bay -open water. So plan should be paddling on the river 6km return x4 or so. Definitely the plan was not to paddle out to the ocean on the day.

Evening of Feb 16, Nadia's mother worried that Nadia has not came back home and called up police. No one even ourselves did not realize that they were not back to the kayak storage.

Around 9PM Japan Coast Guard initiated search and rescue.

About the same time, we were notified from Toshihito's wife that they were missing.

Around 3AM Feb 17. Coast Guard found 2 broken kayaks at Sodegaura about 20km south from where they entered. These kayaks were found in very close location.

Morning of Feb 17, despite of all of our pray and thoughts, their bodies have found at the coast of Ichihara. One thing sure is that they fought till very last end as a team to survive. The location of them and kayaks tells that.

There are many guesses, but no one knows when / where / why / how they were shipwrecked, and why they could not call emergency. Possibly accident happened near river mouth but no one can tell what happened exactly. Needless to say, they were self-rescue trained, so they must have put every effort to back home.

We all know adventure sports come with risks and we have to engage with it with possible risk mitigation measure. They were well aware of that, but sometimes fate may smash it quite easily.

Toshihito and Nadia, may your soul rest in peace. It was such a great honor to be one team.

Feb 19 2013
Daisuke Minami , Goshi Ozawa

1 件のコメント:

  1. I am a classmate of mid-school and an old friend of Toshihito. I know his characteristic very well so that I was preyed on my mind from mindless writings in the Net. But by reading this comment I am relieved. I am living overseas now I can not attend his funeral I wish I could. I pray sincerely for the repose of Toshihito's soul. I am really proud of his friend.