A traffic accident near Kibbutz Ma'agan Michael on Tuesday has turned out to be an apparent double suicide, police sources said.
Canadian-born Morris and Rahel Arev, aged 49 and 48 respectively, were found dead yesterday less than a kilometer away from their car. Their mother was found badly injured in the back seat of their car a day earlier.
The police believe the two committed suicide by leaping onto high tension cables, after failing to commit suicide by crashing into a train. The reason for the apparent suicide is not known.
The police is having difficulty tracing the history of the family because they changed their address frequently and perhaps even lived in their car part of the time.
The affair began on Tuesday night when a Suzuki Baleno drove up to the railway crossing on the access road to Kibbutz Ma'agan Michael, near Zichron Yaakov.
Lea Cohen, a member of the kibbutz, was waiting in her car for the train to pass and the barricade to open when she saw the Arevs' car.
"I saw a car pull up and mount the rails, and then I saw the train lights approaching and the car was hit. Immediately I wondered whether they were kibbutz members or someone I knew," she said.
"I ran toward the car with my son and another person who was with us. Two people got out of the car - the driver and another man. I saw a woman in the back seat. I asked the driver who she was and she answered in English `my mother' and then she said to the man with her, `she's dead.' We opened the crushed door of the car and found the woman alive and breathing. While we were taking care of her I saw from the corner of my eye the two running on the railway tracks toward the train, which had stopped. Then I saw them running back and then they disappeared," she said.
The police began searching the accident area, but in vain. Zichron Yaakov station commander Avi Edri said they first thought it could have been a criminal incident, or that the two had been hurt and fled in a daze.
The injured woman was taken to Hillel Yafe Hospital in Hadera.
Yesterday at noon, in the heart of the farming area close to the high tension wires over the fields of Ma'agan Michael, the police found the bodies of Morris and Rahel Arev. The police believe they climbed up a high voltage line and were electrocuted.
"We found a lot of personal effects in the car and documents that most people keep at home," Edri said. "Apparently the family used to move around a lot and for a while they were in the care of the welfare authorities."
According to their identity cards, the three lived on Frank Street in Hadera. They lived in a high rise with a transient population, and most of those questioned did not know of the Arev family.
Only the Zwerdling family recalled that two and a half years ago some people who fit the description of the dead couple and injured woman used to live there.
"They were quite a weird family," said David Zwerdling, a medical librarian in Ashkelon's Barzilai Hospital. "I imagine they tried to get close to us because they were English speakers, like us. They said they were from Canada. The mother and daughter appeared to be educated and had good manners."
The Zwerdlings remember, however, that the Arev family had a strange habit - they were obsessive hoarders of both items they purchased and things they collected from the trash.
"They used to go around with a trolley and bring home things people would throw out. Their apartment was packed with stuff. The daughter used to teach in Hadera in a college or school. With the son it was impossible to communicate. They lived here for two or three years and then disappeared," said Hanna Zwerdling.
Sources in the Hadera Municipality said yesterday that the city's welfare services was familiar with the family, and that their case was opened in 1998 and closed in 2003 after treatment was discontinued. Municipal officials yesterday tried to hunt down the file to find out more about the family.
For the last two and a half years, the Arev family lived in the community of Harish. Neighbors said they were very closed.
"They lived in a house whose every opening was covered with bars. We really didn't know them. They would cloister themselves up inside, and every now and then they'd go out in their car for a few days," a neighbor said.
Eli Ashkenazi contributed to this story.