Police vow to catch hit-and-run drivers

Spate of accidents since Saturday kill one, leave four seriously injured.

October 21, 2008 02:08
3 minute read.
Police vow to catch hit-and-run drivers

hit and run 224. (photo credit: Channel 10)

The drivers behind the recent spate of hit-and-run accidents which have left pedestrians dead or seriously injured will be apprehended, police vowed on Wednesday, as a 72-year-old woman with Alzheimer's disease became the latest victim of a hit and run. The woman, who does not speak Hebrew, is in hospital with serious injuries after being struck by a vehicle that fled the scene of the accident in Ramat Gan on Wednesday morning. On Tuesday evening, a 20-year-old man was seriously injured after being hit by a car at Bet Dagan Junction near Rishon Lezion. Police have appealed to the public for help in tracking down the driver. Also on Tuesday evening, a four-year-old girl was moderately injured after a car swerved onto a section of Tel Aviv's promenade. Police set up roadblocks in an effort to capture the driver, but the suspect managed to elude custody. Earlier on Tuesday, a 70-year-old man was moderately injured in Lod in a hit-and-run accident. In the early hours of Saturday morning, 27-year-old Meital Aharonson was killed after a jeep driven by two men who had fled a police alcohol spot check point ran her down in Tel Aviv. All three suspects in that incident are in police custody. Despite the wave of hit-and-run accidents, figures for this year on lethal incidents of this kind are only marginally higher than the same period last year, the Traffic Police's Head of Accidents Department, Dep-Cmdr. Noam Bagensky told The Jerusalem Post. "Between January and now, we've had 12 lethal hit and runs, compared to 10 during the same period last year," Bagensky said. "In addition, there has been an 18.8 percent decrease in the number of hit and runs resulting in serious injuries compared to last year," he added. Bagensky attributed the recent wave of hit and runs to an unfortunate concentration of events in a short period of time. Hit and run accidents make up a relatively small percentage of the overall number of lethal accidents - 12 out of 310 this year - Begensky noted. "We apprehend 80% of the drivers involved in hit-and-runs. The law views hit and runs with extreme severity. In non-lethal incidents, a hit and run driver faces seven years in prison, and hit and run accidents which end in death result in nine years behind bars, compared to three years for negligent driving leading to death in a standard accident," Bagensky said. "The chances of someone escaping are pretty small. In some cases, the pedestrian rather than the driver is at fault, and had the driver not fled, he would not face trial. But since he did escape, the driver will be tried whether the accident is his fault or not," Bagensky added. Police investigators who arrive on the scene of a hit and run exploit a range of clues they find to help track down the driver. "Sometimes eye witness reports can lead us to the driver - cars can have a sticker or a sign which provide a lead. Other times investigators find pieces of wreckage on the floor which have part numbers. We analyze these and track down whoever imported the parts, which auto part replacement store sold them. These can lead to the driver," Bagensky said. In the case of hit-and-run that left Aharonson dead and her friend seriously injured, Bagensky confirmed earlier reports that police were considering charging the suspects with murder, an unusual move. "The constellation made up of all the events leading up to the accident could constitute negligence to such a high degree that it would amount to murder," Bagensky said. "I know this [is] the charge Tel Aviv Police's Central Unit is weighing." Responding to the recent wave of hit-and-run accidents, Shmuel Avuav, CEO of the Green Light road safety association, said, "a hit and accident is the most severe of traffic offenses. It displays a severe disregard for human lives, an abandonment of those injured who could have been saved had they received help, and a disregard for any attempt to lighten the damage caused to those hit." Avuav added that fleeing the scene also "showed a lack of fear of the police... and proof of the lack of any deterrent. And what does the government do? Instead of improving police deterrence, it cuts the budget and minimizes the police's ability to act. This irresponsibility borders the scandalous."

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