Attorneys for an event hall that was operating without a license blamed “a higher power” for the collapse of a lighting fixture that killed a woman and injured another 21 during a wedding Monday night in the central Israeli city of Yavneh, as police said they may pursue manslaughter charges.
Medical teams arrived at the city’s ADIA hall after receiving a call saying the large device came crashing down upon a large number of guests during the wedding of Mor and Karin Hayoun.
Police issued the owners with an order that requires them to close the event hall for 30 days, until the cause of the collapse can be ascertained.
The owners were questioned by police, as was the engineer who approved the construction, on suspicion of criminal negligence in the incident.
The engineer could face manslaughter charges if evidence of negligence is discovered, according to the Ynet news site..
The lighting fixture which collapsed consists of two rings connected by cables to an actuator, which allows the chandelier to be raised and lowered for dramatic effect.
Something in that mechanism failed in the course of the wedding, sending the large chandelier crashing onto the party-goers below and killing 54-year-old Aviva Hayoun.
“I don’t know what happened, but there are some tough questions,” a lighting expert told the Walla news site.
In addition to the cables connecting the light fixture to the motor, there were also safety cables, connecting it to the ceiling. Those cables are high-quality, the same as those used by search and rescue units, the expert explained, and should have prevented the disaster.
“The moment the cables that raise and lower the lighting structure fail, which is what happened, the safety cables are supposed to stop it from falling after about a yard. It’s not clear why the safety cables did not work,” he said.
Paramedics and medical personnel treated the injured individuals at the scene and transported them to the Kaplan Medical Center in Rehovot, the Assaf Harofeh Medical Center in Be’er Yaakov, and the Sheba Medical Center in Tel Hashomer.
News broke quickly that the hall had been operating without a license, and had been in trouble with the law before.
The owners of the event hall had been indicted for its lack of license but continued to host events as usual, Ynet news report.
The site also lacked the requisite permissions from the police and the fire department.
“Their pain is our pain, we wish a speedy recovery for the injured,” Avi Chimi, the attorney representing the event hall told reporters.
“The event hall operated under all legal obligations without exception. This is a heavy, tough, terrible event, which was basically a higher power,” he said.
“We’ve never had any problems with the light fixture,” a manager of the event hall stressed Tuesday during an interview with Israel Radio. “There were no signs that such an incident would happen.”
“This lovely couple who wanted to wed in a luxurious hall. They had invested a lot of money to honor their guests,” Yael Hassan, the aunt of the groom, told the Walla news site. “We did not believe it would end like this.”