The Tel Aviv District Attorney’s office on Monday said it intends to press manslaughter charges, pending a hearing, against a teenage boy whose friend was killed when the electric bicycle they were on was involved in a hit-and-run accident.
The 17-year-old suspect, who was not named, was driving his electric bicycle in September 2018 with his friend Ari Nesher, also 17, on the back when the vehicle was involved in a car crash in Tel Aviv. Nesher was critically hurt and succumbed to his injuries four days later.
The car driver, a professional soccer player who had been drinking alcohol at a nearby club, fled the scene of the crash and later turned himself in to police.
According to the prosecution file, the minor broke laws banning cyclists from carrying passengers older than eight years, failed to ensure he and his passenger wore helmets, and failed to drive according to the road conditions at the time, Justice Ministry spokeswoman Roni Livneh said in a statement.
He will face a preliminary hearing before being formally charged for manslaughter.
Yitzhak Asefa, the player with the Israel Premier League’s F.C. Ashdod team whose car collided with the teenagers, is facing separate charges of drunk driving and abandoning the scene of a crime.
Closed circuit television camera footage showed the electric bicycle traveling at high speed and swerving as Asefa’s car passed, leading police to investigate the youth’s actions.
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 pedestrian footpaths, while pedestrians unknowingly make use use of bike lanes.
Last February, Antonio Raya, 85, of Givatayim was run over and killed by a cyclist in Tel Aviv in a hit-and-run accident. The cyclist was never caught.
Following a rash of accidents involving electric bicycles, the government in October approved tougher rules for cyclists who violate traffic laws. Last month, this was followed up with legislation requiring electric bicycle riders aged 15 and a half and over to be licensed. Cyclists are also now also required to wear safety vests at night.
However, the youth involved in the September incident will be charged with the laws that existed at the time, which allowed riders to transport children up to age 8, but not older.