Crowdfunding for family raises over $275K hours after launch

Police: Driver in crash that killed mom, baby was ‘using road as car test track’

18-year-old released from custody but remains hospitalized; car hit Rimel family vehicle on West Bank road, killing Tzippi and 3-week-old baby, critically injuring her husband, son

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

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

A witness to the West Bank car crash that killed a mother and her three-week-old baby has testified that the driver that struck the family’s vehicle was “using the road as a test track” for his car, a police official told The Times of Israel on Friday.

The new testimony led police to rearrest the driver, 18-year-old Tareq Kurd from East Jerusalem, who had been released on Thursday after his blood test from the early Sunday accident came back without traces of alcohol or drugs.

However, a Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court judge ordered the suspect’s release hours later on Friday afternoon, rejecting the police’s request to extend his remand, saying the matter should have been brought before the traffic court, even though it is not open on weekends, a police official said.

The law enforcement official added that the investigation into Kurd — who remains hospitalized in the ICU at Jerusalem’s Hadassah Hospital Ein Kerem — is ongoing.

A spokesperson for the court said that the testimony alleging the suspect had been driving recklessly had already been brought before the court and was not new evidence as claimed by police.

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

Kurd’s car struck the vehicle in which the Rimel family was traveling on Route 443 near the Givat Ze’ev settlement on Sunday.

Tzippi Rimel, 34, was killed along with her infant daughter Noam. Her husband Ephraim and 12-year-old son Itay were critically injured and remain hospitalized at Jerusalem’s Shaare Zedek Medical Center. Both are in life-threatening condition, with doctors fearing that Ephraim could be facing paralysis in much of his body and Itay still unconscious and hooked up to a respirator.

Police have said their initial investigation of the incident indicated that the driver responsible for the crash had been speeding.

Also on Friday, neighbors from the Rimels’ hometown of Halamish in the central West Bank began a crowdfunding campaign to help the family with medical costs in addition to proving assistance to the three children — ages 9, 7 and 3 — who weren’t with their parents at the time of the crash.

As of 3:00 p.m., over NIS 965,000 ($278,460) had been raised.

Tzippi Rimmel (R) with her husband Ephraim and three-week-old daughter Noam. (Courtesy)

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

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