Funeral Held for Israeli Mother, Children Killed in Bus Accident

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Scene of the accident on route 89 in Northern Israel
Scene of the accident on route 89 in Northern IsraelCredit: Gil Eliahu

A woman and her three young children who died Wednesday in northern Israel when their car was hit by a bus carrying teenage campers were buried Thursday in the old Ma’alot-Tarshiha cemetery.

Her husband, the children’s father, was seriously injured in the crash. Reuven Ben Eli left the hospital briefly, carried on a stretcher and traveling by ambulance, to attend the funeral of his wife,Moran Ben Eli, 36, and their children Dekel, 12, Liam, 10 and Anael, 3.

The funeral of the driver of the bus, Asher Basson, 76, of Kiryat Yam, who also died in the accident, was scheduled for Friday.

Car involved in the accident on route 89 in Northern IsraelCredit: Gil Eliahu

48 people were injured in the accident, which took place on Route 89 near the Upper Galilee Druze town of Hurfeish. Most were children in the Bnei Akiva youth movement who were on the bus, returning from a Sukkot trip to the north. Of the 10 people who were still hospitalized as of Thursday evening, two were in serious condition, one fair and seven had mild injuries.

The police investigation into the accident found that Basson had swerved from his lane into opposing traffic. The bus he was driving hit three vehicles, including that of the Ben Eli family, before it crashed into the guardrail and overturned.

Police were checking whether Basson had swerved to avoid a previous accident on the road, as Yedidya Korman, 10, a passenger on the bus, stated.

“The driver saw a chain collision on the road. He tried to brake, turned [perpendicular to the lane] and overturned three times,” Korman said. “Everyone screamed, I fell onto my bag, so I got fewer cuts from the broken glass. Then the screaming began and everyone rushed to get out of the bus and came out through the windows.”

Transportation ministers have been making declarations for years about the need for a national strategic plan to combat traffic accidents. But nothing has been done. A detailed plan submitted by the National Road Safety Authority was not discussed by the previous government and is now on the current minister’s desk. The plan, which was presented about two years ago, set a goal of reducing casualties from road accidents by 50 percent by 2030.

Helicopter evacuation from bus accident on route 89 Credit: Rami Shllush

Erez Kita, CEO of the road-safety nonprofit Or Yarok (green light), said: “Route 89, in the section where the accident happened, has one lane in each direction with no median barrier. Had there been one, this terrible accident could have perhaps been prevented.”

The police said Basson had 51 convictions for traffic violations, most of them for seatbelt and parking offenses. They said this wasn’t an unusual number for someone who has been driving for decades and does not mean he wasn’t a careful driver.

Since the beginning of the year 270 people have died in traffic accidents in Israel, 92 of them in private cars, compared to 233 and 80 in the same period last year.

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