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Questions still unanswered in Christmas fatality

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Friends, family want to piece together accident victim’s final hours

Shiho Ninomiya was an excellent skier, a promising student, and a good friend who is missed by many.

The 23-year-old Japanese student was stuck and killed by a car early Christmas morning on Highway 99 during a snow storm. She appears to have been walking on the road at the time, and according to the RCMP she was in the travel portion of the highway when the accident occurred.

For her friends and family, the only thing about this tragedy that is clear is that Shiho should never have been there in the first place. She was too cautious and sensible to walk on the highway at night, even if the buses had stopped running and cabs were hard to come by.

Now friends and family want to know why she was there, and what happened in the hour and almost 45 minutes between the time she left her friends, at approximately 2:30 a.m., and when the RCMP were called at 4:13 a.m.

A group of four or five unidentified males in a silver Isuzu Rodeo may be the last people to see her that evening, and may have the answer to those questions.

"Her home-stay family knew her as someone who was very responsible, and felt it was very out of character that she did not come back on the last bus," said Lisa Matsumoto, the supervisor of the Canadian Sports Business Academy, where Shiho was enrolled.

Matsumoto and Shiro Nakajima, the director of the CSBA, are working to piece together the events of the evening to help bring closure to Shiho’s family and friends.

According to Matsumoto, Shiho and a group of other Japanese students went out to dinner on Christmas Eve, then went dancing at a local night club. They were drinking, but the students said she Shiho was not drunk when she left.

"She studied very hard, and didn’t drink that much. She had a lot of common sense," said Matsumoto.

After dancing, the group went to a bus stop where they were informed that the last bus to Emerald Estates, where Shiho’s homestay family resides, had already left. Most of the other students lived closer to town, but stayed with Shiho while she weighed her alternatives.

While they were standing there, a silver Isuzu Rodeo with four or five males pulled up and initiated a conversation with the group. The males were described as young, probably in their early 20s, and of Indo-Canadian descent. They said they were going to Emerald Estates and would take Shiho home.

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