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United States

Strange car crash leaves Japanese Nobel Prize winner in US hospital, wife dead on a landfill

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 15 March, 2018, 2:57am
UPDATED : Thursday, 15 March, 2018, 9:09pm

A Japanese Nobel Prize winner was taken to hospital on Wednesday, apparently after a strange car crash that left his wife dead on a landfill in rural Illinois.

Ei-ichi Negishi, 82, a chemist teaching at Purdue University in the neighbouring state of Indiana, and his wife Sumire Negishi, 80, were reported missing on Monday.

Police found them early on Tuesday about 320km (200 miles) northeast of their home, on land belonging to the Orchard Hills Landfill operated by the company Advanced Disposal.

Police discovered Ei-ichi Negishi walking in the area, and his wife was found dead near their car.

“Both her and the vehicle were found on the landfill property,” Lieutenant Brian Ketter of the Ogle County Sheriff’s office said.

The couple had been driving to a nearby airport and became disoriented, and Ei-Ichi Negishi crashed their car into a ditch, according to WTHR television. The TV station reported that Sumire Negishi had stayed behind while her husband left looking for help.

Police would not confirm details about the incident, but did not suspect foul play. The Rockford airport is located around 13km from where the couple was discovered.

The local coroner’s office said an autopsy was pending. Ei-ichi Negishi was receiving treatment at a hospital, police said.

Negishi is a Japanese national who came to the US on a Fulbright scholarship in 1960 to study chemistry. He joined the Purdue faculty in 1979.

He, along with two other scientists, won the Nobel Prize for chemistry in 2010 for developing a method for creating complex chemicals. The method is widely used, including for the production of pharmaceuticals.