A Palestinian family was the first to rush to the scene of a fatal West Bank bus crash on Thursday night, called police and administered aid to victims under pouring rain until rescue forces arrived, the Ynet news website reported Friday.
Cpt. Sivan Raviv, the medical officer of the IDF’s Binyamin Brigade, told Ynet that members of the family helped save the lives of some of the bus’s Israeli passengers.
“Usually we are scrambled to a scene after calls from the regional hotline on such accidents. This time it was members of the Palestinian family who called police quickly to report the accident,” Raviv said.
“They didn’t think about it or consider it,” Raviv added. “They saw saving lives as their first priority. When we got there we saw the family trying to extract passengers and treating them.”
The family lives in A-Lubban a-Sharqiyah, a small village not far from the settlement of Ma’ale Levonah, north of Ramallah. Family members said they had seen the crash from their home.
Raviv said that when the medics arrived, the family members were standing in the rain in their pajamas, flashlights in hand, trying to extract survivors amid a torrential downpour.
Two people, Avishai Kroani, 37, and Ofir Rachmanov, 23, were killed in the crash, and seven others were wounded.
Kroani was the bus driver. He was a father of five from the settlement of Ariel and was laid to rest at 1 p.m. Friday at the cemetery in Ariel. Rachmanov was a student at Ariel University.
The Egged bus was traveling on Route 60 when it hit a guardrail and plunged 70 meters (230 feet) down a ravine in stormy weather in the northern West Bank in the early hours of Friday morning.
MDA spokesman Zaki Heller said the rescue was conducted together with IDF forces and was hampered by the darkness, difficult terrain and stormy weather. IDF helicopters had to be used to lift the wounded out of the ravine to waiting ambulances on the road above.
Rescue workers declared the crash a “mass casualty event,” with dozens of ambulances, volunteers and medics called in from all over the region.