Scene of fatal crash in Tiberias
Scene of fatal crash in Tiberias Photo: Itzik Touboul and Aryeh Shavit

Police officials on Tuesday said initial findings in an investigation into a horrific traffic accident that left 8 members of the Atias family dead indicates "mechanical failure" caused the tragedy.

The investigation was headed personally by the head of Israel's traffic police, who was aided by police inspectors and additional police experts.

However, police stress the investigation is not complete. Investigators are now reportedly looking into the cause of the mechanical defects and have not ruled out possible negligence on the part of vehicle inspectors.

To this end, Police are bringing in engineers from the Ministry of Transportation – and experts from an outside firm – to examine the car in detail.

The car passed inspection only three months ago, but the steep hills from Tzfat to Tiberias wear out brakes very quickly.

The Atias family late Monday night was returning to their home in the national religious community of Bar Yochai, located near Meron and Tzfat, following the dedication of a Torah scroll and new synagogue founded by the children’s grandfather in a nearby community.

The driver, Rafael Atias, 42, realized his brakes were not working and phoned the emergency hotline.

As the car sped down a hill out of control, Atias' wife Yehudit, 42, abruptly stopped a conversation with the hotline and screamed. “G-d. Save us. HaShem, save us.”

The victims, besides the parents, are Avia, 17, twins Eliyashiv and Neria Shimon, 16, Shira, 11, Tair, 8 and Noa, 4.

Responding officers found the car aflame, having overturned after hitting a railing. 

One member of the family, seven year old Rachel Atias, survived the flames. A Tanakh – the Jewish scriptures – also survived.