Bus Driver Suspected of Manslaughter After Haifa Crash Kills Girl, Wounds Dozens

The bus company blames the driver while he claims a technical malfunction caused the crash.

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The scene of the bus crash in Haifa's Carmel Tunnels, Haifa, Israel, April 21, 2016.
The scene of the bus crash in Haifa's Carmel Tunnels, Haifa, Israel, April 21, 2016.Credit: Rami Shllush

The driver of the bus that crashed in the Haifa Tunnels on Thursday has blamed a technical fault, but bus company Egged says the driver is to blame.

The driver, a 44-year-old man whose identity has been kept under a gag order, is being investigated for manslaughter and reckless driving in the crash that killed one and injured 47.

Egged declined to comment on the police investigation but said Friday that it “rejects the claim of a technical fault .... It seems the cause of the accident was the driver’s behavior.”

The bus was new and completely road-worthy, and the road conditions were good, it said. In the accident, a 17-year-old girl was killed.  

Six of the injured are in serious condition, seven suffered moderate injuries and 34 were lightly injured. Several others reportedly checked into hospitals independently and were not included in the casualty count.

Or Elbaz, 17, was killed in a bus crash in Haifa on April 21, 2106.Credit: Social media

The bus veered from its lane and crashed into the tunnel wall. The Haifa Magistrate’s Court says the driver has no record of traffic offenses or any crimes.   

“The driver, 44, is a resident of Haifa and father of two and was also injured in the crash. He was brought before the Haifa Magistrate’s Court on Friday morning. The court ordered him held for only a few more hours and then freed him to house arrest at his brother’s home in the center of the country for the Passover holiday.”

The driver only began working for Egged two and a half weeks ago after finishing extensive training, according to his attorney, Eran Bar-Or.

The funeral of the teenage girl, Or Elbaz, was held Friday in Haifa. Elbaz, an only child, was severely injured in the crash and died a few hours later.

Her father, Yossi Elbaz, said she was on her way to buy a white blouse for the holiday, and instead of taking her regular bus, followed her friends’ advice and took bus No. 101, which crashed.

“I always worried about such a thing,” her father said. “I always saw the roads as a war, worse than war. It eats us up.”

The father said he heard about the accident from the media, and about an hour after the accident he heard that a friend of his daughter’s on the bus was in intensive care.

He began searching for Or with his wife; they found her at Carmel Medical Center.

“We saw her as if nothing had happened to her,” the father said. “Sleeping. Pretty .... Now she will sleep forever.”