The Tel Aviv District Attorney’s office on Tuesday said it was closing a suspected manslaughter case against a teenager whose friend was killed when the electric-powered bike they were both riding was hit by a car in a traffic accident last year.
The driver, who fled the scene, was not held responsible for the death, but rather prosecutors blamed the teenage rider because he broke road safety laws.
In explaining the decision to close the case, the district attorney wrote, “The decision was made after considering a wide range of aspects and considerations pertaining to the event, some related to the ability to prove the basics of the offense and some in consideration of the minor’s age and personal circumstances and the probation service opinion given in his case.”
Prosecutors had previously said they would file an indictment, pending a hearing, against the minor because he broke laws banning cyclists from carrying passengers older than eight, failed to ensure he and his passenger wore helmets, and did not drive according to the road conditions at the time.
The 17-year-old, who has not been named in media due to a gag order, was driving his electric bicycle in September 2018 with his friend Ari Nesher, also 17, on the back when the bike was involved in a car crash in Tel Aviv. Nesher was critically hurt and succumbed to his injuries four days later.
Closed circuit television camera footage showed the electric bicycle traveling at high speed and swerving as the car passed, leading police to investigate the youth’s actions.
The car driver, Yitzhak Asefa, a soccer player for the Israel Premier League’s F.C. Ashdod team, had been drinking alcohol at a nearby club, fled the scene of the crash and later turned himself in to police.
Earlier this month Asefa was convicted of abandoning the scene of an accident and obstructing the subsequent investigation, but acquitted on the additional charges of drunk driving and speeding on the grounds of reasonable doubt because evidence was collected two hours after the accident.
Electric bikes have become increasingly popular across the country in recent years — seen as a cheaper, “green” alternative to motorbikes and cars, and often, a quicker ride to work or school as they enable cyclists to skirt around traffic with little effort.
However, given the poor cycling infrastructure in place and irregular bicycle paths in cities, cyclists are sometimes forced to use roads and pedestrian footpaths, while pedestrians unknowingly make use of bike lanes.