Texas PR guru, a booster of Israeli tech, among Tel Aviv crash victims

Texas PR guru, a booster of Israeli tech, among Tel Aviv crash victims

Alan Weinkrantz, a regular visitor with close ties to startup scene in US and Israel, was on a business trip; Ashdod father also killed after car smashed into restaurant

Stuart Winer is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

Alan Weinkrantz at the Kahenacon SEO conference in Jerusalem in 2015. (courtesy Kahena Digital Marketing)
Alan Weinkrantz at the Kahenacon SEO conference in Jerusalem in 2015. (courtesy Kahena Digital Marketing)

A San Antonio public relations specialist closely connected to Israel’s high tech scene was named early Sunday as one of the three people killed when a driver plowed into a Tel Aviv sidewalk restaurant Saturday.

Alan Weinkrantz, president of Alan Weinkrantz and Company, was in Israel on a business trip and had gone out for dinner when he was killed in the accident.

His son Aaron was informed of his father’s death by the US Embassy in Israel, the MySanAntonio website reported.

Police said the driver, a 41-year-old man from Ra’anana in central Israel, likely suffered a heart attack, causing him to lose control of the vehicle and veer onto the sidewalk, crashing into tables at Furama, an Asian restaurant on Ben Yehuda street in the center of the city.

Another fatality in the incident was named as Menashe Raz, 47, from Ashdod, along with the driver of the black Audi.

Weinkrantz had been a regular visitor to Israel, coming annually over the past 25 years and more frequently in recent years.

In addition to running his own company and acting as a brand ambassador for James Brehm & Associates, Weinkrantz was also a regular blogger for the Times of Israel blog section.

As news of Weinkrantz’s death spread Sunday morning, tributes from figures in Israel’s tech scene poured in on Facebook.

I'm shocked. Speechless. The country's best ambassador in the world of tech and innovation was tragically killed in a…

Posted by Mordecai Holtz on sestdiena, 2016. gada 18. jūnijs

A memorial fund was set up in his name to help pay for funeral costs.

Aaron Weinkrantz, who along with his sister Lauren lives in New York, said his father was scheduled to return home later this week.

“He was planning to come back to the US on Thursday,” Aaron Weinkrantz said. “So this has been real tough and real, just crazy.”

In February, Weinkrantz wrote a blog post for The Times of Israel looking back on 16 months in the country working with the startup scene, saying he would come back after Passover.

“I am honored and privileged to cross paths with people from all over the world who make this magical place their home,” he wrote. “Being here is very purposeful, and those who live and make this place their home are actually setting an example for the rest of the world. This is what makes Israel the API of humanity.”

Menashe Raz had traveled to Tel Aviv for an evening out with his wife, three children, and sister-in-law’s family, and the group were making ready to leave the premises when the car struck, Ynet reported on Sunday.

In a security camera video of the crash Menashe can been seen talking on his cellphone with his back to the road unaware of the car hurtling toward him.

His sister-in-law Revital, 25, was left in moderate condition and taken to Wolfson hospital in Holon. His niece, Linoy Raz, 22, was also moderately injured and spent the night in Ichilov hospital, the report said.

Surveillance footage from the incident showed the car traveling at high speed from the intersection, veering onto the sidewalk on Ben Yehuda street while mowing down people standing on the corner before crashing into the tables outside the restaurant and coming to a stop.

Police were quick to put out the word that the incident was an accident and not a terror attack, as Tel Aviv was still reeling from a deadly shooting rampage less than two weeks ago at the Sarona Market in the city in which four people were killed and a dozen injured.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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