Eyewitness Says Bus Driver Deliberately Swerved Dangerously

YERUSHALAYIM -
Police conferring at the scene of a deadly crash between a bus and two cars in Israel’s north on Wednesday. (David Cohen/Flash90)

A survivor of the crash that killed five people on Wednesday has said that the driver of the bus carrying some 40 Bnei Akiva youth was swerving dangerously in order to get the attention of the noisy passengers to quiet them down.

Bnei Akiva counselor Dvir Neria, 18, who was among the dozens injured, told Ynet that the driver had repeatedly demanded quiet resorted to accelerating or slowing down suddenly to shut them up.

“There were swervings, but we didn’t think anything wasn’t okay,” Neria said. “There was talking, singing and a bit of noise and mayhem — students having fun, after all — and that really bothered the driver. He got annoyed and asked for quiet, so they stopped for a bit and then continued. There were parts where he would suddenly slam the brakes or accelerate so they would be quiet.”

Five people were killed and nearly 50 were injured in the collision between the bus and other vehicles on Route 89 in the Upper Galil, near the town of Hurfeish, where the campers were returning from a Sukkos trip.

The fatalities include a woman and her three children: Moran Ben-Eli, 35, and kids Dekel (15), Liam (11) and Annael (5).

The family father, Reuven Ben-Eli, 36, was seriously injured and was informed of his tragic loss after he regained consciousness at Rambam hospital in Haifa on Thursday.

The fifth fatality in the accident was the driver himself, Asher Basson, 76.

Initial findings from a police investigation said that the crash occurred after the bus swerved from its lane for an unknown reason and hit the side of a van. It then hit another vehicle before colliding head-on with the taxi carrying the Ben-Eli family.

It emerged on Thursday that Basson had a long history of traffic violations, including 51 convictions. Most were for minor infractions, but also for running red lights and speeding.

Police are seeking to determine whether the bus swerved from its lane due to a technical malfunction, a human error or a medical issue.