Bus driver from massive fatal highway crash indicted

The accident was one of the worst in recent memory and rattled the country for days.

June 22, 2016 11:18
2 minute read.

Bus accident on Highway 1 February 14, 2016

Bus accident on Highway 1 February 14, 2016

Haim Bitton, the Egged bus driver who allegedly causing a devastating highway crash near the Latrun junction in which six died and nine were injured on February 14, was indicted for negligent homicide in the Jerusalem Magistrate's Traffic Court on Wednesday.

The accident was one of the worst in recent memory and rattled the country for days.

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The Jerusalem District Attorney's Office, which filed the indictment, also asked that his driver's license be canceled.

According to the indictment, Bitton was driving too fast in the right lane and was about to collide with the car in front of him.

To avoid that crash, he swerved onto the roadside to avoid an accident, but did not see the truck stopped on the roadside until it was too late to avoid hitting it.

In a pretrial detention hearing in February, Judge Naeel Mohana found “there is significant evidence that the suspect’s conduct caused the accident, in that he didn’t keep sufficient distance from the truck that was on the side of the road following a technical malfunction.”

At the same hearing, police said that they determined that in the 40 minutes between the time of the crash and his arrest, driver Haim Bitton managed to remove the tachograph of the bus, which records the vehicle’s speed.

They were not able to say in court if Bitton was able to alter the findings of the apparatus, however.
The accident took place on Route 1 from Jerusalem to Bnei Brak.

Bitton’s No. 402 bus collided with a large flatbed truck parked on the shoulder.
A crane affixed to the bed of the truck gutted the entire right side of the bus, killing or injuring everyone seated on that side of the vehicle.
The accident was not the first involving Bitton on that route. In December 2013 he hit a truck from behind not far from the site of Sunday’s crash, injuring 18 passengers.

Bitton's intercity driving privileges had been suspended at the time, and had only recently been lifted when he caused February's much more serious highway crash.

Ben Hartman contributed to this story.

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