1 killed, several injured in collapse at Mount Herzl stage

20-year-old female IDF officer dies, 6 others hurt; accident occurs while setting up fixture above stage for Independence Day ceremony; police investigating cause of accident, questioning engineers who built structure.

By MELANIE LIDMAN, JPOST.COM STAFF
April 18, 2012 18:41
2 minute read.
Lighting rig falls at Har Herzl

Lighting rig falls at Har Herzl 370. (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)

 
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A 20-year-old female IDF officer with the rank of first lieutenant was killed, and six others were injured in an accident that took place Wednesday afternoon on Mount Herzl in Jerusalem.

While setting up the main stage for the state's official Independence Day ceremony that will take place next week, a large lighting fixture above the stage collapsed on workers and performers who were conducting rehearsals.

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MDA paramedics treated one person in light to moderate condition and five others suffering light injuries. The injured were evacuated to Hadassah University Medical Center in Jerusalem's Ein Kerem. The IDF officer killed in the accident was pronounced dead on the scene. Her family was informed of her death.

The large rectangular structure that fell covered the entire plaza at Mount Herzl, which was covered with glass from broken lights.

The IDF Color Guard was apparently on the scene practicing for next week's planned Remembrance Day ceremony when the incident occurred.

Jerusalem District Police Deputy Commander Manny Yitzhaki said police were investigating every angle of the event "one-by-one" to understand how the accident occurred and who was responsible. He added that police were checking how the structure was built and had detained a number of engineers involved in its construction for questioning.

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Yitzhaki stated that it had not yet been decided if the Remembrance Day ceremony scheduled to take place next week at Mount Herzl would still take place. He said that the remainder of the structures set up for the ceremony would have to be checked, including bleachers intended to seat hundreds. The police were in consultation with the Public Diplomacy Ministry about the future of the event.

Witnesses who were watching rehearsals for the ceremony when the accident occurred said that because of strong winds, the structure's columns seemed to be swaying, with some bystanders even voicing concern that the structure could fall. Police said they were unaware of these accounts, but were checking their veracity as part of their investigation.

One teenage boy, who was witness to the collapse while he was inside the hall waiting for his cousin, said he was watching when the light rigs came crashing down.

"I saw two soldiers lying on the ground," he recounted. "There was a lot of panic, everyone ran. They tried to pick [the victim] up. Magen David Adom [paramedics] came quickly and told everyone to leave."

ZAKA and MDA emergency workers remained at the scene along with firefighters and several soldiers, including some from the IDF Color Guard.

Yaakov Katz contributed to this report.

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