Police make arrests in hit-and-run investigation

Police make arrests in hit-and-run investigation

Cops detain driver and four others in connection with the death of a soldier

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

Rescue services at the scene of the crash (photo credit: Zaka/Flash90)
Rescue services at the scene of the crash (photo credit: Zaka/Flash90)

Police arrested a man on Tuesday in connection with the hit-and-run accident that killed IDF soldier Amansh Yazatsu last week. Four others who were in the vehicle at the time were also arrested, but later released on bail.

Ynet News reported that the 45-year-old-driver is from Upper Nazareth and that police impounded his vehicle, a minibus, for forensic examination. Initial reports suggest that the driver was not the first to hit Yazatsu, who died after at least three vehicles hit her without stopping on Route 66, near Kibbutz Hazorea in northern Israel.

The four men who were released claim they were asleep in the vehicle when it hit Yazatsu, jolting them awake. When they asked the driver what had happened he reassured them and continued driving, Ynet News reported.

Earlier in the week police said they intended to use data from traffic cameras to identify the multiple drivers who hit the soldier and left her to die.

Closed-circuit TV from the gas station did not record the accident, but police examined images from cameras located at junctions near the section of road where the incident occurred and used them to locate drivers who had passed by.

Some of the drivers have already been interviewed by police and their involvement ruled out. The early hour of the accident meant that there were relatively few vehicles in the area, numbering a few dozen at most. In addition, Maariv reported that investigators were reviewing mobile phone data to identify all devices that passed along the road at the time of the accident.

At around 6 a.m. on Friday morning Yazatsu attempted to cross Route 66 after visiting a gas station near Kibbutz Hazorea. The 19-year-old was crossing the unlit road when a car hit her and the driver continued without stopping to help. As Yazatsu lay sprawled at the side of the road another vehicle hit her, also without stopping. A witness to the event, who was refueling at the gas station, contacted emergency services but even as he phoned, a third car hit Yazatsu.

Two young women in a car noticed her body in the road as they approached. Swerving to avoid her, their car overturned and they suffered minor injuries. Yazatsu was pronounced dead at the scene.

A 20-year-old woman contacted Afula Police on Friday and admitted she had run over Yazatsu. Police released her on bail after concluding she was not the first driver involved in the incident.

Hundreds attended Yazatsu’s funeral on Sunday morning when she was laid to rest in the Yokne’am military cemetery.


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