Drugs Suspected in Dead Sea Car Crash That Killed Family of Eight

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The Atar family killed in the accident on October 30, 2018.
The Atar family killed in the accident on October 30, 2018.Credit: Psagot Spokesperson's Office

The Be'er Sheva Magistrate's Court extended on Wednesday the remand of the driver suspected of killing a family of eight in a car crash near the Dead Sea. According to the police, the driver is suspected of having driven under the influence of drugs. 

Eight people were killed Tuesday in the accident: The two parents and their six children, from the West Bank settlement of Psagot.

During the investigation, the driver said he sometimes uses medical marijuana. According to his lawyer, he underwent a urine test. 

The scene of the accident on Route 90, October 30, 2018.Credit: Israel Fire and Rescue Services

The crash on Highway 90 also injured three people, a 12 year-old girl and her parents, aged 50 and 52. They were evacuated to Soroka Medical Center in Be'er Sheva.

The driver had committed more than 20 traffic offenses in the past and is suspected to have passed the car on a busy road. At his lawyers request, his name and photo are barred from publication.

Police said the accident was apparently a head-on collision between an off-road vehicle and a car, which started a fire in the vehicle the victims were in. Police have begun an investigation into the incident.

The scene of the accident on Route 90, October 30, 2018. Credit: Magen David Adom

Magen David Adom emergency responders that arrived at the scene said firefighters put out the fire and found that those inside were already dead.

According a paramedic on site, the driver of the off-road vehicle could be heard shouting, "I killed them, I killed them."

The driver told the police who accompanied him to the hospital, "I know I killed five people. I will never drive again... How am I supposed to live with what I have done?" 

The scene of a deadly car crash on Israel's Highway 90 on October 30, 2018. Credit: Israel Fire and Rescue Services

Judge Zvi Forer said during the hearing that he "doesn't wish upon anyone to be in the place of this man," referring to the driver. According to the judge, "there is no dispute regarding the suspicions. There is no need to continue the investigation. The suspect is cooperating with his questioners, he gave his version and there is not much risk of him obstructing the investigation."

His lawyer said that his client "won't stop crying."

The Atar family members who were killed Tuesday were Yariv and Shoshi, 47- and 45-years-old, along with their six children: 12-year-old Yaakov Israel, 11-year-old Ateret, 9-year-old Ayala, 7-year-old Moria, 5-year-old Yedid and 3-year-old Avigail.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu responded to the accident on Twitter: "The heart breaks in light of the horrendous tragedy that claimed the lives of an entire family today. As many of Israel's citizens are spending today's vacation day traveling around the country, I ask you all to do everything you can to ensure your safe return home."

The area of Highway 90 in which the crash took place has two lanes, with one lane in each direction and no median barrier.

Less than two weeks ago, three members of a family including a 10-month-old infant were killed on the same highway in an accident involving a bus and a private vehicle. Police have been investigating the possibility that the crash resulted from a failure of the bus's steering system.

According to the Or Yarok Association for Safer Driving in Israel, some 1,350 traffic accidents have occurred on Highway 90 in the past decade, which have killed 120 people. Over 4,000 were wounded, including 374 who were seriously wounded.

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