Teenager Succumbs to Injuries Four Days After Tel Aviv Hit-and-run

Professional soccer player suspected in the hit-and-run, Itzhak Asefa, now faces a potential manslaughter charge

The late Ari Nesher and his parents.
Rafi Deloya

Ari Nesher, 17, died of critical injuries on Thursday after he and a friend riding an electric bicycle were hit by a car in Tel Aviv four days previously.

His family agreed to donate his organs.

On Wednesday the courts extended the detention of Itzhak Asefa, a professional soccer player with the M.S. Ashdod team suspected of hitting the two teenagers with his car and then fleeing the scene.

Ari’s parents Iris and Avi said that their son had marked his 17th birthday in the hospital.

“No child should have to leave the world at age 17,” they wrote in their statement to the press. “Ari wasn’t only born handsome but talented, curious, witty and so happy.” He was studying cinema and always tried to be helpful to the people around him, they wrote. 

Ari had hoped to be a paramedic in the army, and volunteered with the Magen David Adom ambulance service on a weekly basis, the parents wrote.

He had been grievously injured in the accident and fought for his life until the end, they wrote, but when all hope of his recovery died, they decided to donate his organs, hoping to save other lives, the parents said. 

“In his last moments Ari was surrounded by family and his many loving friends, who gathered to mark his 17th birthday,” the parents wrote.

Asefa was found after his detention to have five times the legal limit of alcohol for young drivers (below 24) in his blood. 

If beforehand Asefa faced suspicions of hit and run, Nesher’s death escalate the suspicion to manslaughter. The penalty for manslaughter is up to 20 years.

Judge Ro'i Peri said at the hearing that the severity of the circumstances were compounded by Aspa being a new, young driver, and driving while inebriated. “However the root of all evil in the case before me is in abandoning two minors lying in the road in their own blood, and the suspect decided to go on his way.”

The judge said Aspa had committed “ugly acts and antisocial conduct.”

According to an individual familiar with the case, Aspa’s two friends, Omer Lakao and Or Dassa, were driving together in another car and saw the chaos at the scene of the crash. The person said the three friends had met in south Tel Aviv and that Lakao returned with Aspa to the scene. After being questioned for a few hours, they were released under restrictions.

The pair told investigators that before the accident they had been together at a club and a birthday party for Dassa. The Ashdod Sports Club, where the suspect played, sent its condolences to the family.

“The club expresses deep sorrow and shock over the death of Ari Nesher, of blessed memory, and sends its deepest condolences to Ari’s family,” the statement said.