Shneor Cheshin, son of Mishael Cheshin, retired deputy president of the Supreme Court, was killed Friday morning in a hit-and-run accident near Rosh Ha'ayin. He was 42 years old.
The driver later surrendered himself, police said, claiming he didn't at first realize he had hit someone. He did not have a valid Israeli driver's license and was using his American one.
Cheshin left early Friday for a bike ride with a friend, Amit Levi. Around 5 A.M., the pair rode east on Route 5, with Cheshin cycling behind Levi. They reached the Kessem interchange and took Route 444 for Rosh Ha'ayin, when a car emerged from behind the cyclists, struck Cheshin and dragged him hundreds of meters before continuing on without stopping to assist the wounded cyclist.
Levi said he didn't notice at first that something was amiss and himself rode on hundreds of meters before realizing Cheshin wasn't following him and went back to find his cycling partner unconscious on the road.
Paramedic Avichai Hadad, who was called to aid the cyclist, said: "By the time we got to the scene he wasn't breathing or responding to stimuli." Hadad said an attempt was made to resuscitate Cheshin but he was pronounced "dead at the scene."
Levi told police that shortly before returning to look for Cheshin, he noticed three cars had pulled over, with a few people trying to calm a young man who appeared to be in distress. Although police suspected this was the driver who had struck Cheshin and had some footage from nearby traffic cameras, they had no success in tracing the driver until late Friday afternoon, when Mor's attorney called to say he was turning himself in.
The driver, Tal Mor, 26, has a record of traffic offense convictions. Mor has not had a valid Israeli driver's license since 2008 and has been driving with his American license since his return from the United States four months ago.
Mor said he recalled driving in the area and hitting something, but felt sure it was a safety barrier rather than a person. He said he drove home to Kfar Baruch, called his insurance agent to say he had an accident and went to sleep.
When he awoke, he saw the news reports on the accident and understood he might have been involved. His parents contacted attorney Tami Ulman, and after getting legal advice, Mor decided to turn himself in.
"They didn't know that Mor was the driver," Ulman said. "He's in a very bad state emotionally, he says he deserves to be punished, that he understands he's done something horrible and that six million people are out to get him."
The attorney said her client could have avoided capture, but decided to take responsibility. "He has an American passport and could have just vanished, but his conscience wouldn't let him. He had been out in two pubs in Tel Aviv and says he was alone in the car," she said.
Police sources yesterday voiced disbelief in Mor's version of events, stressing it was not plausible he wasn't aware of the accident as the windshield of his car had been shattered. Cheshin, an extreme sports enthusiast, comes from a prominent Israeli family. He bears the name of his grandfather, Shneor Cheshin, a Supreme Court justice in the early years of the state.
His father, Mishael Cheshin, retired from the Supreme Court in 2006, after 14 years, and his mother, Ruth Cheshin, is the founder of the Jerusalem Foundation and a scion of the Solomon family of Jerusalem.
Cheshin grew up in Jerusalem and served in the elite Shayetet 13 commando unit. After leaving the army, he studied law but eventually set up Yambateva, an extreme sports and tourism company. He was training for an Austrian Iron Man triathlon when he was killed.
Cheshin is survived by his wife Danit and three children, aged 12, 8 and 7.