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Man dies trying to rescue NHK reporter stranded in Hokkaido snow

TOMAKOMAI, Hokkaido -- A man died while trying to rescue an NHK reporter stranded in snow here between March 1 and 2, it has been learned.

Chihiro Tsutsui, 28, a roadside assistance firm worker from the Hokkaido city of Chitose, headed toward the stranded reporter with two other co-workers on March 1 but was found unconscious on a forest road in the early hours of March 2. He was later confirmed dead.

According to the public broadcaster, the 27-year-old male reporter, who is based at the broadcaster's Tomakomai bureau, asked for help after getting caught in snow from a blizzard.

Officials at Tomakomai Police Station in Hokkaido said that the three workers, employed by a roadside assistance firm in the prefectural city of Kitahiroshima, drove two vehicles toward the forest road where the NHK worker was stranded on March 1. However, they became stuck in snow in the Maruyama district of Tomakomai.

The rescue workers asked their office to send over a snow plow but it never arrived, prompting Tsutsui to leave the car he was in and check his surroundings. However, he later went missing.

At around 3:30 a.m. on March 2, members of the police and fire department found Tsutsui in an unconscious state on a forest road. The other two workers were found safe, inside their company cars. They were then rescued along with the reporter.

According to NHK's Sapporo broadcasting bureau, the reporter was off work on March 1, and spent some of the day driving around forest roads while hunting deer.

"It is regrettable that a person who tried to rescue (our employee) died. We apologize for having caused so much trouble," the bureau said.

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