Widow says Waddle 'took safety lightly'
By Susan Roth
Advertiser Staff Writer
The Japanese families of the nine men and boys killed in the collision of the USS Greeneville and the Ehime Maru fishery training vessel were so tired that they could barely speak after the court of inquiry ended yesterday.
In a sense, they got what they have long desired when Cmdr. Scott Waddle, the captain of the Greeneville, unexpectedly testified before the court and accepted full responsibility for the accident.
But the family members seemed angry and uncertain about the day's events, unable to process the totality of the inquiry.
The technical details brought out during the court session confused them again, and they were emotionally wrung out, looking down with red eyes.
Four of the eight spent the morning traveling to the site where the Ehime Maru sank off Diamond Head with Japanese Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori, who stopped in Honolulu on his way back to Japan from Washington.
They threw flowers into the water and cried as Mori tried to comfort them.
While the legions of Japanese media attending the proceedings at Pearl Harbor have been eagerly awaiting a final word, the family members declined to hold an official news conference and spoke outside the court for only about 10 minutes.
"I'm glad to hear Cmdr. Waddle's voice," said Ryosuke Terata, the father of a student lost at sea. Referring to Waddle's earlier pledge to "speak the truth," Terata said, "The promise was kept. But I don't understand the context."
Tatsuyoshi Mizuguchi, the father of another student, said he still wants Waddle to come to Ehime prefecture in Japan to apologize again at the fishery school that was the home base for the Ehime Maru.
Naoko Nakata, the wife of a teacher who was killed, said, "The accident occurred because Cmdr. Waddle took safety lightly."
Weeping as she spoke, Nakata said she wants the reason for the accident more clearly stated.