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Girls, aged 5 and 9, injured falling from bus window in Negev

Driver says girls were leaning against pane that fell out, reportedly goes missing for several hours before turning himself in, claims he wasn’t on the run

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

The gaping window of bus from which two girls fell, seriously injuring one and moderately injuring the other, December 21, 2021. (Israel Police)
The gaping window of bus from which two girls fell, seriously injuring one and moderately injuring the other, December 21, 2021. (Israel Police)

A 9-year-old girl was seriously injured and another girl, aged 5, was moderately hurt as they both fell from a moving bus on Tuesday night.

After police said they had spent hours looking for the driver, he turned himself in but earlier told Channel 12 news that he had not been on the run and had not been contacted by cops.

The accident happened on Route 31, near the Bedouin town of Kuseife in the southern Negev region of the country.

The driver, 27, a resident of Kuseife, told Channel 12 that the injured girls are from his extended family and that he had not abandoned them after the accident.

He said the bus was returning from a wedding and that, in keeping with Bedouin custom, there were only women on board.

The driver said the girls were leaning against a window as the bus went around a bend.

“The window fell out and they fell from the window,” he said. Other passengers called on him to stop and he did.

Video footage and images of the accident’s scene released by the Israel Police showed the window of the bus lying several meters beyond the roadside barrier.

It was not clear from the Hebrew media reports whether the girls are sisters, but the driver said that their aunts had been invited to the wedding and were on the bus.

The driver said he flagged down a passing ambulance and the crew attended to the injured girls.

He said he didn’t understand why police said he was on the run and that cops had called his father asking about him. The driver said he was on his way to the police even as he was speaking with the network.

Israel Police later announced the driver had turned himself in at the Arara station.

According to the Ynet website, police initially located the driver and brought him to the scene of the accident as part of the investigation. However, the driver complained of feeling unwell and was taken to Soroka hospital for treatment. After being released from the hospital he disappeared until eventually handing himself in.

A Magen David Adom (MDA) paramedic, who by chance was driving an ambulance in the area shortly after the accident, said people had waved at him to a stop. In a statement from MDA, he said the girls were lying in the road and one was unconscious. The paramedic attended to the girls and alerted the MDA call center, instructing them to send two intensive care ambulances.

The seriously injured girl was taken to Soroka Medical Center in Beersheba.

In another traffic accident Tuesday night, an electric bicycle rider was killed in the Tekoa settlement. The circumstances of his death were not immediately clear. The man, in his twenties, was found by medics at the side of the road with head injuries and no vital signs. Medics declared him dead at the scene.

An investigation into the incident is reportedly looking at an accident caused by human error or a hit and run incident.

According to the Israel National Road Safety Authority, since the beginning of the year, 356 people have been killed on the country’s roads, compared to 292 the year before.

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