Minibus Driver Charged With Causing Deaths of 7 Family Members in August Train Collision

Driver's lawyer denies charges, claims failed lookout, poor visibility caused fatal accident.

Charges were pressed Thursday against Yashar Yeshurun, a minibus driver who caused the death of 7 family members in a car accident last August.

Minibus driver Yashar Yeshurun
Ilan Asayag

Yeshurun's lawyer denied the charges, saying he was not responsible for the accident.

The accident occurred when Yeshurun attempted to pass over a railway crossing on road 353 near Kibbutz Gat in southern Israel. Yeshurun tried to cross the tracks even though the barrier was down. The train conductor noticed the vehicle stuck on the tracks but was unable to stop the train on time.

Even though the crossing point had been equipped with a lookout point, the lookout on duty did not alert the train operator on time that the minibus had broken through the gate.

Aryeh and Rivki Bernstein and four of their children: their pregnant daughter Mali Gotstein, and Yohanan, Chaya and Moti Bernstein were among those killed in the accident. Also killed was Mali Gotstein's infant son, Mordechai Aharon.

The family was en route to Moshav Komemiyut, an ultra-Orthodox community where the family planned to celebrate the coming Sabbath.

Yeshurun's lawyer denied the charges on Thursday. "Yeshurun was held solely responsible, even though the lookout did not alert the train conductor on time and the signs at the place were not visible due to the sunlight."

Yeshurun expressed his remorse and said he was receiving psychiatric treatment following the accident.

"I speak with the family members every other day… they support me, but I feel very bad and am sorry for all that happened."