accident - Hagai Frid - June 12 2011
Emergency personnel at the scene of yesterday’s fatal traffic accident just outside Haifa. Photo by Hagai Frid
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Four men were killed early yesterday morning when their car crashed into a concrete wall of the Air Force Technical School on the road connecting Haifa to the bayside towns to the north.

The victims are Shadi Suri, 26; Ahmed Amar, 19; Murad Orabi, 20; and Shadi Orabi, 15. All are residents of Acre.

Police Superintendent Haim Halfon, a traffic police officer investigating the crash, said the initial investigation revealed that the four were not wearing their seat belts and that a number of empty beer bottles were found in the car. Halfon ascribed the cause of the crash to "human error."

The car was enveloped in flames after the crash, said firefighter Shaul Shimon.

The car was driving from the Krayot to Haifa, on road 58, a four-lane road with a divider between the two lanes going in each direction.

Adi Sherman, of Kiryat Haim, who witnessed the crash, told Haaretz:

"I saw a car going at tremendous speed, which almost crashed into my car and then within a second it cut me off and disappeared. After driving a few seconds down the road I saw the car go up in flames. I called the police and saw there were four people in the car, but I couldn't tell if they were moving."

"I'm used to these crazy people already; there are some drivers that you need to steer clear of and just give them the road," Sherman said.

Rescue teams declared the occupants of the car dead at the scene after firefighters put out the flames.

The bodies of the four were taken to the Institute of Forensic Medicine at Abu Kabir, where they will be tested for possible alcohol or drug abuse that may have led to the accident.

The four had been at the home of their friend, Khaled Gazali, who had started out with them in the car but was then dropped off. "It was a miracle that I wasn't in the car," he said. "They asked me to get out; they dropped me off in the city and started out for Haifa. I don't know why they went. About half an hour later we heard about the crash. Everybody here grew up together. I can't believe it. This is a nightmare," Gazali said.

Hundreds of relatives and friends came to console the families of the victims in their homes in Acre's Old City.

The Old City, whose market and tourist sites are filled with visitors on Saturdays, awakened yesterday morning to the voice of a muezzin from a local mosque reporting the death of the four young men in the crash. "Everyone came to the market," a neighbor said. "Anyone who went on the Internet and heard the news at 6 or 7 A.M. knew about the accident. Then it turned out that the victims were natives of the city and the neighborhood."

Early in the morning, screaming and crying could be heard coming from the homes of the victims. Community religious leaders went to the homes to comfort the families and mentioned the dangers of the road, especially when driving at high speed.

The funerals are expected to take place today.