(photo credit: Channel 2)
Six people were killed, four of them children, in collisions on Sunday that police blamed partially on roads made slippery by the rain.
Three children and a soldier were killed when the driver of the pickup truck in which they were riding lost control of his vehicle near the Good Samaritan junction. The truck, according to witnesses, swerved for a couple dozen meters as the driver attempted to regain control, and then slammed head-on into an oncoming bus.
The bus, said witnesses, had also attempted to swerve out of the way of the truck, but to no avail.
The truck then overturned and erupted into flames. The four passengers, who had entered the vehicle as hitchhikers at the French Hill junction in Jerusalem, were all pronounced dead on the scene. The truck's driver was hospitalized in serious condition.
The three children - Eitan Orenbach and Achiya Huri, both 12, and Yishai Kreuser, 13 - were all residents of Mitzpe Yeriho, located only a few kilometers from the scene of the crash.
Four others were injured in the collision. Magen David Adom said it had evacuated a 13-year-old in moderate condition, as well as three other people who had been lightly injured.
Police suspected that rain-soaked roads were a factor in the collision. Traffic experts frequently warn drivers that the first rains of the season are extremely dangerous, because all of the oil and ash that settles on the road surface during the dry summer months floats on top of the water when it rains.
Earlier in the day, seven-year-old Ayman Abu Asa was killed when a bus ran her down on an unpaved road between Beir Ajaj and the Retamim Road, near Kibbutz Revivim in the Negev. Abu Asa and other children had just gotten off the bus driving them home from school when a second bus sped past the first one, which was stopped on the side of the road.
Police believe that Abu Asa was crossing the road in front of her school bus, as children are taught to do. The driver of the bus that struck the girl was detained for questioning.
A short while later, a 60-year-old woman was killed and three others seriously injured near Rehovot when a driver attempted to overtake the vehicle in front of him by crossing a solid white line and collided with another car coming from the opposite direction.
Sunday's deaths brought the annual casualty toll on Israel's roads to 376 - within three of the death toll at the same point last year and a serious slap in the face to traffic police, who had claimed that this year's death rate would be significantly lower than last year's.
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