Top lawyer indicted for fatal traffic accident

Lawyer has been guilty of 21 traffic violations in his 35-year driving career.

In his 35-year driving career, attorney Avigdor Klagsblad, who was charged Thursday with causing death by negligence, has been guilty of 21 traffic violations, including two recent ones involving excessive speed, the Tel Aviv District Prosecutor's Office (Criminal) informed the Tel Aviv Traffic Court. After filing the indictment, the prosecution asked the court to suspend Klagsblad's driver's license until the end of the judicial procedures against him. According to the indictment, Klagsblad is charged with having suddenly swerved into a traffic lane to his left and crashing into the back of a car stopped at a north Tel Aviv intersection, killing its occupants, Yevgenia Vexler, 23, and her six-year-old son, Alex. The "death caused by negligence" charge carries a maximum sentence of three years in prison. Vexler's uncle, Vitaly, told The Jerusalem Post the state should have charged Klagsblad with manslaughter, a crime carrying a maximum sentence of 20 years. According to the indictment, Klagsblad was heading south toward the intersection of Derech Namir and Rehov Einstein "when he unexpectedly swerved to his left, into the lane where [Vexler's] Fiat was standing. While he was swerving, he forced a Volkswagon Polo that was moving slowly behind Vexler's car to turn into the lane to its left to avoid being hit. The defendant kept on driving straight ahead at 80 kilometers or more per hour into the Fiat, without stopping until it hit the car. As a result, it hit the Fiat with great force, penetrated into it and pushed it forwards, so that it hit the Mazda in front of it." Four people were also injured in the crash, including Klagsblad, who was taken to Ichilov Hospital for treatment. Vitali Vexler said there were too many unanswered questions regarding the investigation, particularly with regard to the level of alcohol in Klagsblad's blood at the time of the collision, and how fast he was going. According to Vexler, although Klagsblad underwent a routine blood test two hours after the accident, the hospital did not investigate the alcohol level until two hours later. The result of that test showed a level of six milligrams of alcohol per 100 milliliters. On the basis of the results, a medical expert wrote an opinion stating that Klagsblad was not drunk at the time of the accident. Ichilov Hospital, however, allegedly took another alcohol level test two hours later. This test showed a much higher level of 37 milligrams of alcohol per 100 milliters. No explanation was given for why Ichilov took a second test and the results were not included in the police investigation file. The reported second test was revealed for the first time in an exclusive report by Channel 2 news two days after it was taken, said Vexler. But even the lower alcohol count that appeared in the first test indicated that Klagsblad was drunk at the time of the accident, he maintained. Vexler also charged that the prosecution and the police had rejected the suggestions of the family and their attorney, Zari Hazan, for estimating the speed at which Klagsblad had been driving. The police said they could not assess the speed because the suspect had made no attempt to stop and therefore there were no tire marks on the road. But Vexler said an American company had developed a program for measuring car speeds by the impact of the collision and the damage to the vehicles, and that their technique was accepted as evidence in US courts. But the police had failed to reply to a request by the family to use the technique in this case as well, he said.