Israeli Driver Gets Six Years in Prison for Causing Fatal Train Accident

Yonatan Vaadya was driving under the influence of drugs when his car got stuck on the railway line, resulting in a collision that killed five people and injured 81.

Sharon Pulwer
Sharon Pulwer
Send in e-mailSend in e-mail
Rescue teams at the scene of the train accident at Beit Yehoshua in June 2006.
Rescue teams at the scene of the train accident at Beit Yehoshua in June 2006.Credit: Nir Kafri
Sharon Pulwer
Sharon Pulwer

The Lod District Court on Wednesday sentenced Yonatan Vaadya to six years’ imprisonment for causing the fatal train accident in Beit Yehoshua in June 2006 that killed five people and injured 81.

The court also revoked his driver’s license for 25 years from the day he is released from prison and ordered him to pay 50,000 shekels ($13,235) to the family of each person killed.

Vaadya, a veterinarian, was convicted of five counts of manslaughter, causing serious injury, driving while intoxicated and driving negligently, using drugs, and illegal use of prescription drugs. According to the indictment, Vaadya caused three accidents on June 12, 2006, while driving under the influence of drugs he had prescribed for himself.

In the first accident he hit a private car, causing minor damage. He then hit a different car in a collision that pushed his car onto the train tracks in the path of an oncoming train. While witnesses managed to pull Vaadya out of the car in time, the train, which was full of passengers, hit his vehicle. As a result, three train cars derailed and five people were killed.

The father of one of the victims, Lior Albala, testified at the sentencing hearing, describing, “the loss, the distress and the void left when our son was taken from us.” Three other families submitted crime victim statements.

Prosecutor Or Maimon told the court that, given all the circumstances, including safety flaws contributing to the crash that were Israel Railways’ responsibility, Vaadya should be sentenced to 10 to 14 years in prison.

Vaadya’s lawyer, Eitan Maoz, argued that the contribution of Israel Railways to the accident had to be considered and that Vaadya had not driven onto the tracks deliberately, but “got stuck” there and couldn’t move his car. Moreover, Maoz said, the length of the legal proceedings must also be taken into account, adding that Vaadya had stopped driving, stopped working in his profession and no longer tooke prescription drugs improperly.

He asked the court not to sentence him to prison at all.

Judge Varda Meroz sentenced Vaadya to six years, citing the ‘unfortunate series of events that could have been prevented, ending in a serious tragedy, destruction and loss of life.” She added that Vaadya, “was well aware of the effects of the drugs he took,” and had “consciously put himself in a condition of intoxication when he chose to drive” after taking them.

Maoz called the verdict “totally erroneous” and said he planned to appeal both the conviction and the sentence to the Supreme Court.



Automatic approval of subscriber comments.
From $1 for the first month

Already signed up? LOG IN


Charles Lindbergh addressing an America First Committee rally on October 3, 1941.

Ken Burns’ Brilliant ‘The U.S. and the Holocaust’ Has Only One Problem

The projected rise in sea level on a beach in Haifa over the next 30 years.

Facing Rapid Rise in Sea Levels, Israel Could Lose Large Parts of Its Coastline by 2050

Prime Minister Yair Lapid, this month.

Lapid to Haaretz: ‘I Have Learned to Respect the Left’

“Dubi,” whose full name is secret in keeping with instructions from the Mossad.

The Mossad’s Fateful 48 Hours Before the Yom Kippur War

Tal Dilian.

As Israel Reins in Its Cyberarms Industry, an Ex-intel Officer Is Building a New Empire

Queen Elizabeth II, King Charles III and a British synagogue.

How the Queen’s Death Changes British Jewry’s Most Distinctive Prayer