Driver charged with negligent homicide for crash that killed mother, baby

Nearly two months after striking Rimel family vehicle at high speed on West Bank highway, 19-year-old Tareq Kurd indicted on 10 different charges

Jacob Magid is The Times of Israel's US bureau chief

Tareq Kurd, 19, from East Jerusalem arrives for a court hearing at the Jerusalem District court on January 22, 2020. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)
Tareq Kurd, 19, from East Jerusalem arrives for a court hearing at the Jerusalem District court on January 22, 2020. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

State prosecutors on Wednesday filed an indictment against a driver who killed a mother and her three-week old baby when he rammed into their family’s vehicle on a main West Bank highway at a speed of 170 kilometers per hour (105 mph) last month.

Tareq Kurd was charged with two counts of negligent homicide — each charge carrying a maximum sentence of 12 years in prison — for the deaths of 34-year-old Tzippi Rimel and her infant daughter, Noam.

The 19-year-old driver from East Jerusalem was also charged with eight other counts, including ones related to the injuries he caused to the other two family members in the car. Tzippi’s husband Ephraim, 35, and son Itai, 12, survived the crash, but the former has been paralyzed from the waist down while the latter remains in serious condition at the Shaare Zedek Medical Center ICU.

According to the indictment, Kurd had received his license shortly before the crash and did not have significant experience driving a car with manual shift. Nonetheless, he chose to take his recently purchased Volkswagen for a “test run” on the night between December 4 and 5. He was testing how it reacted to different speeds on Route 443 when he reached an intersection outside the Givat Ze’ev settlement. There, the Rimel family car was stopped at a red light along with several other vehicles. Kurd did not manage to stop in time and blew through the Rimels’ vehicle, which flew forward 35 meters, hitting another vehicle in the process, the charge sheet said.

Tzippi Rimel (L) holds her daughter Noam. (Courtesy)

Tzippi and Noam were pronounced dead at the scene while Ephraim and Itai were rushed to the hospital in serious condition.

Kurd, who was moderately injured in the crash, was driving without insurance at the time of the crash, according to the indictment.

In filing the charges against the suspect, the prosecution requested that his house arrest be extended until the end of proceedings against him and that he be permanently stripped of his license.

Ephraim Rimel (center, sitting) speaks to reporters at the Shaare Zedek Medical Center on January 20, 2020. (Shaare Zedek)

Following the crash, neighbors of the Rimels in the Halamish settlement, also known as Neve Tsuf, began a crowdfunding campaign to help the family with medical costs in addition to providing assistance to the three children — ages 9, 7 and 3 — who were not with their parents at the time of the crash. The fund closed on Monday after over $1 million was raised.

Tzippi Rimel worked as an English teacher at a local school in Halamish. She and her husband had served as youth coordinators in the community and as emissaries to the Jewish community of Chicago.

The scene of a fatal West Bank car crash on Route 443 near Givat Zeev, December 1, 2019. (Fire and Rescue Service)

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