Six people were killed in a multiple vehicle collision involving a truck and several vehicles on the road between Haifa and the Checkpoint junction, near the community of Nesher on Wednesday. The truck rammed into a group of cars waiting at a traffic light after the driver's brakes stopped working.
Investigators from the police's traffic unit discovered the truck's load exceeded the amount it was legally permitted to haul, and estimate that the overweight, in addition to the driver's alleged speeding and reckless driving prior to the accident, were the cause of the crash that left six people dead and an additional 16 wounded
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In addition to the fatalities, three people were seriously injured and another 15 sustained light injuries, according to Magen David Adom paramedics at the scene. Fire and Rescue Services worked to extricate people from the vehicles. Witnesses claim the "vehicles were completely crushed."
Multiple casualty accident (Photo: MDA Spokesperson)
An initial police investigation revealed that the truck responsible for the collision was speeding when the driver lost control of the vehicle. Police believe the extra weight "could lead to brake failure" as the driver had claimed.
The driver, a resident of Rahat, who was lightly injured, has 16 previous traffic offences, but no convictions. He has had his driver's license for 12 years and received his truck driver license two years ago.
The truck driver was taken into police custody where he repeatedly claimed that his breaks were faulty.
Magen David Adom declared a mass casualty event. Many ambulances were called to the scene with police and emergency forces heading to the scene as well.
Lior Doron who witnessed the collision said: "He came from above (down towards the junction) at crazy speed. Already then it was obvious that he had lost his brakes, there was a heavy smell of burning rubber, and the driver screamed from his window: 'Help me! I have no brakes, get out of the way!' But it was already too late to help anyone."
Truck that caused accident (Photo: Hagai Aharon)
Another eye witness, who identified himself as Mustafa, said, "I work as a tow-truck driver, I've seen shocking things in my time, but something this terrible and shocking I have never witnessed. Young people lying seriously injured or dead on the road, you just see the life leaving them."
Cars after collision (Photo: Hagai Aharon)
Benner Kugel, one of the first paramedics to reach the site of the crash, described the scene, "One of the private cars burst into flames. I assumed we were looking at five to 10 fatalities. Ambulances began to arrive and we started treating the injured on the spot, and moving them out to area hospitals."
Scene of accident (Photo: Panet)
Evacuation of the injured lasted 40 minutes. The driver of the truck was moderately injured, and was also taken to an area hospital for treatment.
Traffic light at scene (Photo: Hagai Aharon)
Meanwhile, an inquiry has been launched into the circumstances surrounding the incident. One of the possibilities being investigated is that the truck did not comply with traffic regulations.
Zvulun District Police Chief Ilan Sardel did say that initial investigation into the incident had shown it to be an accident. He added: "There is still a lot to investigate with regards to the vehicle's technical condition, the weight of the load it was carrying and whether it was licensed to tow, before we can determine what caused the serious accident."
The road to Haifa has been closed to traffic.
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