Families mourn 5 Israelis killed in Bolivia

Four childhood friends will be buried at joint Haifa funeral.

five bolivia dead 224.88 (photo credit: Courtesy of the families)
five bolivia dead 224.88
(photo credit: Courtesy of the families)
The four inseparable childhood friends who were killed in a car crash in Bolivia on Thursday will be buried in a joint funeral ceremony in Haifa. The bodies - including that of the fifth victim, Liran Mizrahi from Tel Aviv - are scheduled to arrive in Ben-Gurion Airport on Monday on two flights, one at 3 a.m. and the second at 3 p.m., the Israel Airports Authority reported. The identification process will be completed at the airport due to the bad condition of the bodies, the IAA said. The four friends from Haifa, all 21 - Ortal Ducas, Danielle Atzmon, Sivan Budnizky and Adi Roseman - graduated from the Alliance High School in Haifa three years ago. Mor Elbaz, also from Haifa and a friend of the girls, survived the crash, having switched places with Mizrahi, 22, shortly before the accident occurred. "They did everything together, and now they will be brought for burial together," Alon Ducas, Ortal's father, told The Jerusalem Post Sunday. He spoke following a long weekend that started on Friday afternoon with the tragic news of his daughter's death in the accident in southern Bolivia's Uyuni Salt Flats. After completing their mandatory military service, the four friends worked and saved up money for the trip, which they had been planning together for a long time. They had studied for the matriculation examinations together, stayed close during their service in the IDF, spent their spare time together and were now going on a post-army trip to South America and the US together. A fifth friend, Sivan Magen, was due to join them in June. "Ortal was a great girl, responsible and mature," Alon Ducas said. "We didn't imagine anything could go wrong, and we trusted Ortal and her friends, who were an inseparable part of her life for as long as we could remember." He said his daughter, Atzmon and Elbaz had traveled together in Argentina. Roseman and Budnizky had worked in the US and joined their friends in Argentina after saving up enough money. "Mor's father came to our house on Saturday," Ducas said. "There's not much to say. We are all broken and hurt. Ortal planned to finish the trip in July and to work a little longer in the US before coming back home and going to university. She hadn't decided what she wanted to study, but she would have done a great job no matter what she chose." Ortal is survived by two younger brothers and her parents. Budnizky - or 'Budi', as her friends called her - was considered the comedian of the group, her friends told Ynet. Her parents, Edi and Hana, and her older sister, Tali, refused to accept the horrible message delivered to them on Friday afternoon. "We can't come to accept that our little girl will never be back," Edi Budnizky said. "The house is full of Sivan's friends from her military service and from high school, who keep talking about the girls' strong and rare friendship. We anticipated her homecoming, but then this disaster changed everything." "They planned this trip so thoroughly," Hana Budnizky said. "All they wanted was to enjoy the year after their military service in a long and unforgettable trip before starting real life. Now, it's all ruined... it's just impossible to accept." "Danielle was a rare child," Atzmon's mother, Irit, told the Post Sunday. "The last time we spoke was just before she went on this trek. We didn't worry at all, because we knew this wasn't a dangerous trip." Atzmon was the youngest child in her family, and her friends said she was a beautiful girl and an outstanding student. "She dreamed of this trip for so long - they worked very hard to finance it and planned it carefully," Atzmon's aunt, Niza, told Ynet. "This is a tragedy. Only three months left for this trip, but our beautiful girl would never return home." Atzmon is survived by two older brothers and her parents. Roseman's family recalled how hard their daughter and sister had worked to finance the trip to South and North America. "She phoned us on a daily basis, and we could tell she was having the time of her life," Ynet quoted one of them. Roseman's older brother received the news while in Australia and took the first flight back home to Haifa. Besides her brother and parents, Roseman is survived by her boyfriend of nine years. Mizrahi, the fifth passenger in the girls' vehicle, was from Tel Aviv's Ramat Aviv neighborhood. "Liran was a charming kid," Mizrahi's uncle, Eli, told the Post. "He was ready to give a hand to anyone who needed help and was a hard-working person. He completed his military service as an outstanding soldier and worked with us in our moving company for eight months to save the money for the trip... "This is a tragedy. Liran was very close to his father and was a warm person whose hellos were full of love and concern. He went on this trip a month and a half ago with several other childhood friends with whom he grew up here in Ramat Aviv." Miri Mizrahi, Liran's mother, told Army Radio on Sunday that she couldn't accept that her son would not return to her. "I'm waiting for him to enter this door and tell me that everything was a lie and that he's right here," she said. "He called us on Monday and told us about this trek they were about to go on. He said, I have nothing to worry about, because they took an organized tour with two jeeps, a tour guide and a cook. When the policemen came to our house and told me that my son had been involved in a car accident, I refused to believe him. I told him he was making a mistake... "I will never find any comfort, but he sounded like the happiest person on earth, and for that I am glad. They tell me this salt desert is one of the most beautiful things in the world, white, just as Liran's soul is, white and pure." Liran is survived by a brother, two sisters and his parents. Magen, too, had trouble accepting her friends' deaths. "I want to believe that this is a practical joke Budi is pulling on us, that this is not real," Magen told Ynet on Saturday as she visited her deceased friends' homes. "I was working on Friday, and after finishing my shift, I saw that I had dozens of missed calls and messages from people who called to comfort me," she said. "I didn't know what they were comforting me for - after that, I didn't want to know anymore... "We were a group of happy girls. The ability to be happy and to enjoy what life has to offer was the most dominant thing about these girls. Friends who did everything together. We used to make fun of them for being cowards - we said, how can they go on a long trip to South America when they are afraid of going to Tel Aviv." Magen said the strong friendship had started in seventh grade, when the five had found themselves in the same new class. "I think of them and can't believe it," she said. "Adi, who everything made her laugh; Ortal, who was creative, and my house is full of necklaces and works of art she did by herself; Danielle, who was highly charismatic and lived in the moment and was super-special; and there was Budi, who was just like a sister to me. She wanted to be a vet, and together we dreamt of establishing a shelter for homeless dogs." "I don't know what's going to happen with all these dreams now that they're gone," Magen added.