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3 men thanked by Japanese police for rescuing elderly woman from sinking car

From right, Naoki Harayama, Hiroto Kobayashi and his brother Ryoga Kobayashi are seen at the Kuramochi civic center in Nabari, Mie Prefecture, after they received police commendations for rescuing a woman, on Aug. 16, 2021. (Mainichi/Naoto Yamanaka)

NABARI, Mie -- Three young men including a high school student were commended by police here after rescuing an elderly woman trapped inside a car on a submerged road.

    Hiroto Kobayashi, 20, his high school student brother Ryoga Kobayashi, 18, and Naoki Harayama, 34, each received a letter of gratitude from the Nabari Police Station on Aug. 16. The three are all residents of the city of Nabari, Mie Prefecture.

    According to the police station, a woman in her 70s drove onto a local municipal road inundated by heavy rain at around 1:30 p.m. on July 12, and got stuck there.

    Harayama, who works for a nearby company, witnessed the incident, and rushed to the scene after alerting police. Meanwhile, the Kobayashi brothers were driving in front of the woman's vehicle. Due to the flooding on the road, they had just begun turning back when they saw her vehicle sinking. The brothers then hurried to her rescue.

    The three men joined hands to pull the woman out from the open passenger seat window and guided her to a safe place. At that time, the water had reached belly height, making it apparently impossible to open the car's doors.

    At a ceremony held at a local civic center, Nabari Police Station chief Hiromichi Higuchi handed the letters of commendation to the three brave citizens.

    Harayama said, "When I was little, people around me helped me when I was hurt. I always wanted to help others if I found anyone in need."

    The Kobayashi brothers commented that they were glad the woman was safe, and that they realized once more how dangerous water can be.

    (Japanese original by Naoto Yamanaka, Nabari Bureau)

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