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Judge orders suspect jailed for week in hit-and-run that left boy critical

Police say Netanel Sandrusi was possibly under the influence the night of the accident; suspect claims he did not know police were looking for him during week-long manhunt

Netanel Sandrusi is taken to the traffic court in Jerusalem after being arrested on suspicion that he ran over an 11-year-old child, critically wounding him, and then fleeing the scene, April 29, 2019. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)
Netanel Sandrusi is taken to the traffic court in Jerusalem after being arrested on suspicion that he ran over an 11-year-old child, critically wounding him, and then fleeing the scene, April 29, 2019. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

The driver in a Jerusalem hit-and-run in Jerusalem last week that left a child in critical condition was ordered held in custody for a week Monday, a day after turning himself in following a week-long manhunt.

Netanel Sandrusi, 23, is suspected of driving a car that hit an 11-year-old boy on April 21 in the Ramot neighborhood in north Jerusalem, and then fleeing the scene. The car was found hours after the accident near a West Bank settlement adjacent to the city.

Sandrusi, a Jerusalem resident, turned himself in to police on Sunday, but has maintained his innocence and said he didn’t know police were looking for him since he is religious and isn’t exposed to “secular media.”

Police investigators told the Jerusalem traffic court that Sandrusi was driving irresponsibly the night of the accident, and may have been under the influence of drugs or alcohol. A urine sample has been sent to be examined in a lab.

He is accused of running a red light, abandoning the scene of an accident, and obstruction of justice, though charges have not yet been filed.

The collision occurred at a marked crosswalk on Golda Meir Boulevard, a busy thoroughfare in the northwest of the city which has seen a large number of traffic accidents. The child’s brother was reportedly with him at the time of the crash and was lightly injured.

A police representative handed the judge a classified report claiming Sandrusi may further try to obstruct justice if he is released from custody, Hebrew-language media reported.

The suspect’s attorney, Moshe Sucami, said during the hearing that there are witnesses who say the child darted in front of the car when the driver had a green light. A police representative admitted that the red-light running was “a suspicion.”

Moshe Sucami, an attorney representing Netanel Sandrusi who is suspected in a hit and run collision in which an 11-year-old child was critically wounded, is seen at the traffic court in Jerusalem on April 29, 2019. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

Sucami also accused police of “lynching” the suspect and seeking to arrest him on “baseless” arguments.

Speaking with the Ynet website, Sucami argued that Sandrusi had not been the driver of the car at the time of the accident. He said he had rented the vehicle for several hours from its owner and then returned it “several hours” before the crash.

“He has no connection to the unfortunate incident, and it is a shame that they rushed to conclusions before a serious investigation was conducted,” he said.

The child, who has not been named, was rushed to the city’s Shaare Zedek hospital. He remains in critical condition.

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