Survivors of deadly flash flood return to complete hike, pay tribute to victims

Schoolmates come back two months after 10 teens were killed when the pre-military academy that organized the hike ignored warnings of flooding in the Dead Sea region

Survivors of the flash flood that killed 10 teens in southern Israel in April 2018 return to the site of the deadly hike (Screenshot/Hadashot news)
Survivors of the flash flood that killed 10 teens in southern Israel in April 2018 return to the site of the deadly hike (Screenshot/Hadashot news)

A group of teenagers who survived the deadly flash flooding on a hiking trail near the Dead Sea that killed 10 participants, returned to the scene of the tragedy two months later to complete the hike and pay tribute to their friends.

Accompanied by their parents, the 15 survivors recounted their experiences and their fears as they saw their friends swept away by the waters.

“I remember thinking, I just want this to end, no matter how,” Shari Kortz told Hadashot news.

Nine teenage young women and one young man were killed in April when they were hit by the flash floods in the Tzafit River, a popular hiking trail along a riverbed in the southern Dead Sea area.

The 10 were part of a group of 25 high school students on a hike organized by Tel Aviv’s Bnei Zion pre-military academy, and were set to attend its program in the coming year.

“Suddenly we heard the sound of rocks. Everyone was in shock and didn’t move. We looked at one another without moving, until suddenly some shouted ‘flood, everybody climb,'” recounted Adiel Hassid.

“The girls started to scream and I jumped onto the next ledge and I saw the wave with all the rocks wash away the girls,” he said. “We started trying to climb up and comprehend what happened, but we still can’t really comprehend it.”

Volunteers from the ZAKA emergency response service transport the bodies of Israeli teenagers killed in a flash flood near the Dead Sea on April 26, 2018. (ZAKA)

The 10 fatalities were Shani Shamir from the central city of Shoham; Ella Or from Ma’ale Adumim; Maayan Barhum and Yael Sadan from Jerusalem; Tzur Alfi, the only male who was killed, from the central town of Mazkeret Batya; Agam Levy from the central Israeli town of Herut; Romi Cohen of Maor, near Hadera; Gali Balali from the Tel Aviv suburb of Givatayim; Adi Raanan of the northern Israel moshav of Mikhmoret; and Ilan Bar Shalom of Rishon Lezion.

A composite photo of the 10 victims of a flash flood in southern Israel on April 27, 2018. Top row, left to right: Romi Cohen, Ilan Bar Shalom, Shani Shamir, Adi Raanan, Agam Levy. Bottom row, left to right: Yael Sadan, Maayan Barhum, Tzur Alfi, Gali Balali, Ella Or. (Courtesy/Facebook)

The hike went ahead despite warnings of heavy rains and severe weather conditions.

Police have recommended that both the counselor and the former head of the academy face criminal charges.

Police recommended that the counselor, Aviv Bardichev, be indicted for manslaughter while academy director Yuval Kahan — who resigned following the tragedy — be charged with the lesser offense of negligent homicide.

Bardichev will potentially face the harsher charge of manslaughter because the weather warnings delivered to him were apparently much more specific than those given to Kahan.

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