Police on Monday arrested the driver of the bus that was involved in the tragic road incident in which six people were killed and dozens injured in Israel Sunday night on Road 1, near the Modi’in turnoff.
The names of all six killed in the incident have been released: Yaakov Meir Cheshin, z”l, 27, of Yerushalayim; Yisrael Weinberg, z”l, 26, of Yerushalayim; Levi Yitzchak Amduri, z”l, 17, of Yavniel; Aharon Mordechai Cohen, z”l, 18, of Yerushalayim; Mrs. Leah Malmud, a”h, 61, of Yerushalayim and Mrs. Pesha Frankel, a”h, 23.
One injured passenger is in serious condition in a Yerushalayim hospital.
The levayah of Levi Yitzchak Amduri was held late Sunday night in Yavniel. The other levayos are to be held Monday.
An initial police investigation indicates that the driver of the number 402 bus from Yerushalayim on its way to Bnei Brak acted in an aggressive manner and failed to avoid hitting the truck that was in the breakdown lane on the side of the road. He is being charged with negligent manslaughter. Police have plan to ask the court to extend his remand until their investigation is complete.
It was revealed Monday that the driver had been involved last year in a similar incident, in which, driving too fast, he was unable to swerve to avoid a vehicle parked on the side of the road. In that incident, there were several passengers lightly injured. Afterwards, Israel Radio reported, the Egged bus company had reassigned the driver to local routes, and taken off inter-city routes – but several weeks ago he was restored to his previous status, and was assigned routes between Yerushalayim and Tel Aviv or Bnei Brak.
In a statement to police, reported on Channel Two, the driver said that he “didn’t realize what was happening” when he hit the truck. He reenacted the incident with police investigators, and an investigative committee has been formed to gather further evidence in the case.
In a statement, police said that their initial investigation had determined that the driver was conducting himself in an aggressive manner, driving too fast and changing lanes in a dangerous manner. However, they have not yet ruled out the possibility that the driver purposely rammed into the truck in the context of a terror attack.
Several witnesses said that the driver had not been paying attention to the road, and was distracted – because he was using a cellphone at the time of the incident. Speaking to Army Radio, the director general of the Transport Ministry said that buses would soon be equipped with systems that will alert drivers if they are veering out of their lane, or if they are getting too close to vehicles in front of them.