(photo credit: Channel 2)
In a tragic turn of events, police on Wednesday discovered that what had appeared a day earlier to be a train-car accident was really a mother and her two children, identified as Israeli-Americans, trying to commit suicide as a family.
On Tuesday afternoon, a car was hit by an oncoming train near kibbutz Ma'agan Michael in the north. At the time of the accident, eyewitnesses said the car pulled onto the train tracks after the barrier had already descended and stopped in the middle "as if it was waiting to be hit." Moments after the collision, police said two people emerged from the wreckage and fled the scene.
On Wednesday, police said they found the mysterious two survivors lying dead in a field half a kilometer from the scene of the collision after apparently jumping from or electrocuting themselves on an electrical pole.
Police identified the two people found dead on Wednesday as brother and sister Maurice and Rachel Arav, the children of 82-year-old ruth Arav who was seriously wounded in the train collision. The mother is hospitalized in Hillel Yaffe Hospital in Hadera. The family had apparently moved to Hadera in 1996 from the United States.
Leah Cohen, a resident of Ma'agan Michael said Wednesday that she saw Maurice and Rachel get out of the car and flee the scene of the collision.
"I saw the collision happen and got out of my car to go see if there were any survivors," Cohen said. "Suddenly two people got out of the car looking dizzy and began walking towards me."
Cohen said she asked Rachel who was left in the car and she responded in English: "It is my mother, my mother. But she is dead."
Cohen said her 14-year-old son, together with other bystanders, succeeded in pulling the elderly lady out of the car. "She was still alive," Cohen said. "She was conscious and responded to me when I put her glasses back on her."
By the time, Cohen looked up however, the brother and sister had disappeared. "One minute they were there," she said, "the next minute they were gone."
Police launched searches throughout the night for the missing survivors who they initially thought had been thrown out of the car from the impact of the collision. On Wednesday, however, their bodies were found by a farmer in a nearby field.
Police said they suspected the family decided to commit suicide due to financial difficulties. The mother, chief of police in Zichron Yaakov Ch.-Supt. Avi Edri said, was treated by welfare officials in Hadera.
"It appears they committed suicide due to financial trouble," Edri said. "They seemed to even be living out of their car which was found loaded with clothes and additional belongings."
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