5 killed in Galilee bus crash

Some 50 people injured as Egged bus hits truck on Acre-Karmiel road.

egged bus crash 311 (photo credit: Nati Shapira/ Zaka rescue and recovery organizatio)
egged bus crash 311
(photo credit: Nati Shapira/ Zaka rescue and recovery organizatio)
Five people were killed and 56 were injured when an Egged bus smashed into a semi-trailer truck on Thursday afternoon at the Gilon junction on Route 85, between Karmiel and Acre.
The bus, which departed from Haifa, was en route to Safed when it ploughed into the left side of the semi-trailer, which was parked on a narrow stretch of shoulder along the highway. The truck had pulled over after being involved in a minor accident with a car, said Asst.-Cmdr. Yisrael Jibli, head of the Traffic Police.
The victims were Sergeant Inna Sverdlov, 21, and CaptainAviv El-Dan, 26, of the IDF; Major Salah Abdullah, 42, of the Israel PrisonServices; Yitzhak Zohar-Zahavi, 56, and Asher Nidam, 62.
An initial investigation by Galilee Traffic Police found that the 25-year-old bus driver, from the village of Sajur, near Karmiel, was likely to blame for the accident, after tailgating the truck before it pulled over. Jibli said the truck was sticking out into the right lane of the highway, and the bus driver had not had time to take evasive action when the truck stopped in front of him.
The bus driver was reportedly the subject of a complaint to Egged last week about dangerous driving, and was suspended several months ago after Egged safety inspectors saw him driving recklessly. He was lightly injured in Thursday’s crash.
Large numbers of firefighters and Magen David Adom paramedics converged on the scene and, with the assistance of motorists, rescued trapped passengers from the bus, ferrying them to the Rambam Medical Center in Haifa and the Western Galilee Hospital in Nahariya via helicopter and ambulance.
Four passengers were seriously injured, 20 were moderately to lightly hurt, and the remainder suffered light injuries.
Passengers who sat on the right side of the bus had the worst injuries.
Police are investigating the possibility that the truck driver had lightly struck the side of another car and then pulled over onto the shoulder to examine the damage.
According to that scenario, the bus driver was tailgating the truck, which caught him off guard when it pulled over in front of him, and he then smashed into it.
The bus driver told Traffic Police that the truck had been parked on the side of the road as he approached it, and had suddenly darted out into the road, surprising him and causing the accident.