Seven members of the same family were killed in the fatal collision between a minibus and a train on Thursday evening.
The names of the seven, residents of Beitar Illit who were on their way to a vacation when the accident occurred, were cleared for publication early Friday morning. They are Aryeh Bernstein (43) and his wife Rivka (41), and their children: Malka Gotstein (21), Yochanan (16), Chana (14), and Mordechai-Aharon (9). Their grandson Mordechai-Aharon Bernstein was also killed in the accident. Malka Gotstein's husband, Dudu (22), was critically wounded in the accident.
Aryeh Bernstein was identified as a volunteer with the ZAKA rescue organization. He was identified by friends from ZAKA who had rushed to the scene of the crash in order to provide assistance.
Their funeral will take place on Friday morning at 10:30.
The accident occurred after the driver of the minibus drove onto the train tracks when the warning lights were on. A guard stationed along the tracks relayed a warning to the driver of the oncoming train, but he was unable to stop in time.
Dozens of people were wounded in the accident, including pregnant women. Three military helicopters were called to the scene to help care for the wounded. The Soroka Hospital in Be’er Sheva treated at least eight of the wounded. One was in moderate condition and the rest were only lightly wounded.
The driver of the minibus, who suffered mild injuries, was treated at the Soroka Hospital in Be’er Sheva. He was later interrogated by police, and said that that he saw the train barrier going down at the last moment and hit the brakes, but was unable to stop the vehicle in time.
Yoram Weiss, the driver of the train, said in an interview to Israel’s Channel 10 News that as far as he had seen, the minibus driver did not realize he was approaching the tracks until the barrier hit the minibus. According to Weiss, it was only at that time that the driver of the minibus attempted to brake. He said that he felt the train hitting the minibus but does not know any further details. He added that he was grateful that the train did not go off the track as a result of the accident.
Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz, announced following the accident that a committee will be appointed in order to investigate the circumstances of the accident.