Deafening silence. G
Photo: Ido Erez

'It could happen to anyone'

Meet G., an average Israeli driver who killed someone after hitting him with his car. He served his time, he says, but he never feels free

"My name is G. and I've killed someone.


"I'm 54. I live in the Sharon region and I have four children – my youngest is four. I'm a reserve officer, a veteran of the Yom Kippur and the Lebanon wars. I work hard for a living, volunteered in several organizations and had a life. A normal life with a normal family, until that moment. I drove a car while under the influence of alcohol and I hit someone and killed them. I took somebody's life and now I have to live with it.


"I wanted to come forward, I have no problem with everyone seeing my face and knowing my name and what I did, but my family was concerned. I can understand that. They have been dealing with this just as I am and it hasn’t been easy for them. The last thing they want is to drag all this up again, but I can't help it. It's there with me all day, every day. I did my time and got out of prison, but I'll never be free.


"Everyone thinks it can't happen to them. I was injured in another car accident myself and afterwards I was a volunteer for the Highway Police and I was the one pulling drunk drivers off the road. And then one day, I have three drinks and get in the car and all of a sudden I'm in this familiar scene, with the same images and the same voices, but this time on the other side – I'm the one behind the wheel.


"It happened on September 15, 2004. Rosh Hashana Eve, just two weeks before my 50th birthday. I was on my way to pick up friends who celebrate the holiday with us every year and on the way I got a phone call from neighboring relatives. 'Come by, we're toasting the New Year,' they said. and I gave in to temptation and stopped by.


"We were sitting in their backyard. We toasted the New Year with some whiskey and good food, and before I knew it, two hours went by. The friends I was supposed to pick up called to see where I was, so I said goodbye to everyone, took my key and got in the car. I wasn’t speeding. I didn’t feel drunk. I had no idea my life was minutes away from changing forever."

'It never lets you go' (Archive photo: Hagai Aharon)


The sound of silence

"It happened on one of the more dangerous turns in the area. There's a warning sign there now. I was driving a Volvo S90 – that's a massive car – and all of a sudden, the car driving in the lane next to me crossed into my lane to get to the parking lot across from the highway.


"My response was automatic – I hit the brakes, broke right and slammed into a safety rail. The car spun about eight times, flew across to the opposite lane and then there was a big thump and them – nothing. Silence.


"I was out of it for a few seconds but then I remember opening my eyes, and there are a lot of people around trying to see if I'm okay. The windshield was crushed but it held in place. I couldn’t see anything, but I felt up to it so I got out of the car. I asked if anyone was hurt, and the people around said not. I remember thinking 'thank God,' and then I heard this child's voice, in pain.


"I looked to the side and I saw her. There was a grown man lying next to her. There was no blood anywhere, but he wasn’t moving. Everything happened so fast. There were paramedics there trying to resuscitate him, and the examined me and took some blood. I know the procedure. I know exactly what's going on and where things are headed. I've seen my share of accidents exactly like this. From the corner of my eye, I see the paramedics cover the injured man's body. How could this happen to me?


"That moment, when you realize you caused a fatal car crash – you can't think. There are a lot of things that go though your mind; this horrible feeling. What have I done? Who did I get here? Why is this happening to me?


"I was injured in a car crash in 1997 – a cement truck crashed my car. I was hospitalized, had two operations and ended up with a disability. After that I started volunteering with the Highway Police. I thought 'who better than me?' I was a volunteer for seven years. It was a calling.


"They're taking me to the hospital and all I can think of is that this time I hit someone. I'm the one responsible. The hospital sends me home and later the police call me in for questioning. I had a 0.129 blood alcohol level at the time of the accident – that's considered dangerous. I'm released on my own recognizance, but I'm going to trial. My lawyer says they'll be charging me with involuntary manslaughter.


"The judge chose to convict me of manslaughter. He called me 'salt of the earth,' but said my case had to be a lesson for all to see. I was sentenced to four years in jail, one year's probation and my licensed was revoked for 15 years. Having a manslaughter conviction is having a permanent criminal record, but I go against my lawyer's advice and choose not to appeal. I deserved what I got."


'Prison too good for people like me'

"I started serving my sentence on November 15, 2005. All of a sudden I'm in the same cell as 15 criminals. Junkies, rapists, murderers. I'm required to tell everyone what I'm doing time for. It's a prison tradition. Killing someone in a car crash is considered understandable in prison. 'It could happen to anyone,' they told me. Rapists, pedophiles, wife-beaters – they get the rougher treatment. Being in prison is recounting the accident every minute of every day. the moment of impact, the child crying, the man in the body-bag. It never lets you go.


"I was a straight-up prisoner. I mentored other guys who had really bad problems. I looked out for them, wanted to help them get back on their feet. I asked the judge to let me do something – lecture, or something – about road accidents. I had no doubt I was going to jail, but I wanted to try and contribute just the same. He didn’t agree. I think jail is too good for people like me. You have everything you could ask for when your inside – food, books, movies – it's like a five-star hotel.


"When I was in prison and today too, I kept thinking that people like me should be sent to the Loewenstein Rehabilitation Center, to Ichilov (the Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center) for the day, and taken back to prison at night. Just going to prison isn’t enough."


'It never lets you go'

"Getting out… saying you've been 'released' from prison is misleading, because I haven't really been released. I finished my prison term but my real punishment started after I got out. I don’t feel free. I'll always be in prison. The dead man's daughter is always on my mind.


"When you're a convicted felon, getting a job is an impossible thing to do. I don’t hide it, I tell people and everyone says they appreciate the honesty, but no one will hire me.


"I contacted the Or Yarok ("Green Light") Association after I got out and I meet with students and tell them my life story. It's my duty to tell the world what happened, to make them understand that if it happened to me it could happen to anyone.


"They say time heals all wounds, but it can't heal this one. After my release, I visited the grave of the man I killed. He's buried a few hundred feet from my father. I didn’t ask for his forgiveness because I'm not in the habit of talking to headstones. But I have a debt. We have an unbreakable bond, him and me. He will be with me for as long as I live."


פרסום ראשון: 09.10.08, 17:35
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