Japanese cyclist dies of injuries sustained from Taroko rockfall

Japanese cyclist dies from head trauma caused by falling rocks in Taroko National Park on Saturday

Japanese cyclist fatally injured by rockfall in Taroko. (By Central News Agency)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) -- A Japanese cyclist last night succumbed to his injuries sustained during a rockfall which took place as he was riding through Taroko National Park on Saturday (Sept. 9), according to officials at Hualen Tzuchi Hospital, reported UDN.

The cyclist, who was identified as Shirai Hiroyuki, 35, had entered Taiwan on a sightseeing visa from his home in Japan's Shizuoka Prefecture, according to Apple Daily. He had entered the Taroko National Park on Saturday and just as he was nearing the Tunnel of Nine Turns (九曲洞) on a stretch of the Central Cross-Island Highway (174 km), he was struck by falling rocks. 

One of the rocks struck him on the head and he suffered a partial loss of consciousness before being sent to the hospital. After undergoing emergency surgery at the hospital, he went into a severe coma. Because his brain stem had been injured in the accident, his condition continued to worsen. 

His father, brother, and fiancee were all by his side when he died.

Hiroyuki was reportedly in Hualien to compete in a cycling event which took place on the Central Cross-Island Highway, but before he could participate, he was struck by the falling rocks during a practice run. 

Because Taroko National Park is a world-class scenic area, attracting many tourists from home and abroad, the Hualien County government called on the Ministry of the Interior and the Taroko National Park Management Office to emphasize park safety. It called for increased efforts at monitoring geologically unstable sections of the road and taking more measures to ensure the safety of tourists to prevent such accidents from reoccurring.

A woman and her daughter who were riding a scooter also sustained minor injuries from the rockfall.