Bus driver goes from hospital to house arrest

Police investigator veers away from Mofaz's explanation of crash near Eilat that killed 24.

ambulances 248.88 (photo credit: Channel 2)
ambulances 248.88
(photo credit: Channel 2)
Police on Thursday arrested the bus driver whose vehicle tumbled into a desert ravine on Wednesday north of Eilat, killing 25 Russian tourists and injuring dozens more. Edward Geflond is suspected of causing death by negligent driving, an offense that carries a three-year jail sentence, and was placed under house arrest for 30 days. Police took Geflond into custody immediately after his release from Petah Tikva's Beilinson hospital, and confiscated his passport. Traffic Police investigator Dep.-Cmdr. Noam Bagensky, who is in charge of the investigation on the crash, told The Jerusalem Post on Thursday that he believed Geflond had been traveling at too high a speed when he attempted to overtake a second bus, resulting in the accident. "Working in full cooperation with state prosecutors, we asked the court to place Geflond under house arrest," he said. "We are a third of the way through the investigation. We still have injured people to interrogate, and I'm therefore being deliberately vague at this point, because I want to hear from them what happened, not what they read in the newspapers." Referring to claims by Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz that a verbal altercation between the two bus drivers over the right of way at an IDF checkpoint had led to reckless driving, Bagensky said police were "investigating all of the rumors that have been raised in the press." "After we process all of the material and reach final conclusions, we will be wiser," he added, vowing to conclude the investigation as soon as possible "without jeopardizing its quality." Meanwhile, a Russian plane was flying the bodies of the bus accident victims back home. Twenty-four Magen David Adom ambulances, bearing black mourning ribbons as a sign of solidarity with the Russian people, transported the coffins of the victims on Thursday from the L. Greenberg Forensic Medicine Institute at Abu Kabir to Ben-Gurion Airport. The traffic lane was closed to other vehicles. After a moment of silence and a short ceremony, the bodies were flown to Russia, where the victims' relatives were waiting for them in St. Petersburg. Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said that about 15 people remained hospitalized. A total of 51 people were on the bus. Judy Siegel and AP contributed to this report.